Monday, April 14, 2008
One of four charges vs. New Mexico dismissed
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- The NCAA has dismissed one of four charges facing New Mexico's football program in an academic fraud investigation, although the assistant named in the dropped count no longer coaches at the school.
Defensive coordinator Osia Lewis left in February to accept the same position at UTEP. He was accused of interfering with the NCAA investigation, but New Mexico administrators had planned to contest that allegation.
Now, it's a moot point.
"The charge against an individual who was a member of our staff last season has been dismissed," New Mexico athletic director Paul Krebs said Monday.
Lewis didn't return telephone messages seeking comment.
New Mexico's case is on the agenda for Friday's meeting of the NCAA infractions committee in Indianapolis. The school faces three charges involving rules violations by two other former assistants.
The coaches are accused of helping four prospective student-athletes and one student-athlete already enrolled at New Mexico improperly obtain credits through correspondence courses at Fresno Pacific University.
Those coaches haven't been identified but neither remains at New Mexico. No current players are tied to the case, which dates from the spring of 2004 and fall of 2005, and only two of the five played for the Lobos.
Krebs and coach Rocky Long will lead a five-member delegation presenting a case to the infractions committee. New Mexico's internal investigation confirmed three of the four NCAA allegations.
The fourth charge claimed Lewis interfered with the probe by discussing it with other coaches after meeting with investigators, but New Mexico, in its response to the NCAA, felt investigators had been vague in admonishing Lewis to remain silent.
The university self-imposed penalties on three remaining counts, including two years' probation, the reduction of two scholarships for next season and reducing the number of coaches who can make off-campus visits over the next two seasons.
The infractions committee is expected to issue its findings six to eight weeks after the hearing. Krebs declined to say if he believes committee members will accept New Mexico's self-imposed actions.
"We'll just go through it and make our presentation," he said.
When Lewis left for UTEP, Long insisted there was no link to the NCAA probe. He told reporters Lewis was leaving to become the top defensive coach on UTEP's staff; at New Mexico, that role is held by Long.