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Saturday, October 14, 2006

Oklahoma Recuriting Violations?

NORMAN, Okla. -- The NCAA has officially begun an investigation into alleged violations by former Oklahoma quarterback Rhett Bomar and offensive lineman J.D. Quinn that led to the players' dismissal from the team.

In a letter to university president David Boren released Friday by the university after an open records request by The Associated Press, NCAA director of enforcement Julie Roe informs Oklahoma of the investigation and tells the university it hopes to finish its work by Nov. 1.

"At this time, the possible violations primarily involve excessive earnings provided to student-athletes employed by a representative of the institution's athletics interests," Roe writes in the letter dated Sept. 20. "However, please note that new information is often developed during an investigation that leads to expanded inquiries."

According to the letter, Roe and assistant director of enforcement Jeff Myers will process the case. The NCAA's Committee on Infractions would take over if the investigation results in a notice of allegations against Oklahoma.

Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops has said the players were dismissed for "knowingly" breaking NCAA rules. The university has said the players "received extra compensation above that to which they were entitled related to their employment at a private business," and a subsequent report to the NCAA identified that business as Norman car dealership Big Red Sports and Imports.

Since the time of the violations, the dealership has changed ownership. Bomar has transferred to Sam Houston State and Quinn has transferred to Montana.

Oklahoma associate athletic director for communications Kenny Mossman said athletic director Joe Castiglione would not comment on the investigation.

Among other documents released Friday were a log of seven football players who worked at Big Red during the 2003-04 academic year and 10 football players who worked at the dealership in 2004-05. All of the athletes' names have been redacted from the logs as well as from their pay stubs from the dealership and tax forms.

One student's W-2 form shows annual earnings in excess of $10,400 in 2005. The university has not revealed its estimation of the extra benefit received by the students, citing student privacy.

However, the documents released include an explanation by Oklahoma senior associate athletic director of administration Keith Gill that the university's estimate was based on "testimony, benchmarking against the pay of others that had similar schedules, class schedules, work schedules, practice schedules and other available documentation to create percentages that it believes represent a fair estimate of the benefit."

Oklahoma also sent the NCAA a schedule of team activities for a two-year period beginning in May 2004.

"The University acknowledges it was very difficult to determine the exact amount of the extra benefit in this case," Gill writes in the e-mail dated Oct. 3.

Oklahoma appeared before the Committee on Infractions in April regarding an investigation into excessive recruiting calls made by the school's men's basketball team under former coach Kelvin Sampson.

In that case, the NCAA largely accepted Oklahoma's self-imposed sanctions, including probation, reductions in scholarships, recruiting calls and trips and visits to the school by prospective recruits. The committee also issued a public reprimand and censure.

Sampson, now the coach at Indiana, was banned from calling recruits and participating in off-campus recruiting activities for one year.

Infractions committee chairman Thomas Yeager said Sampson and his staff "deliberately disregarded NCAA rules" by making 577 impermissible phone calls from 2000-04.


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