BY MIKE DeCOURCY
The Cincinnati Enquirer
University of Cincinnati coach Bob Huggins contends the law firm that handled the independent investigation of the Bearcats basketball program escalated the probe to increase its fees.
UC's investigation was handled by the Kansas-based firm of Bond, Schoeneck & King, which has a specialty in handling NCAA cases for universities. The process cost the athletic department at least $250,000, although UC has not made a final figure available.
"I don't think it's a contention," Huggins said Thursday. "There's absolutely no question that they extended the investigation for monetary gain."
Attorney Mike Glazier, who worked on the UC investigation, declined to comment on Huggins' statements.
UC hired the law firm after receiving a letter from the NCAA asking that the eligibility of Charles Williams, then the Bearcats point guard, be reaffirmed. The organization suspected a junior college Williams attended had been giving academic credit to athletes who hadn't earned it. Williams took one summer-school class there. Earlier this month, UC was placed on two years of probation for NCAA rules violations that included a lack of institutional control over the basketball program.
Huggins said he objected to the hiring of Bond, Schoeneck & King at the time.
"I didn't want all the negative publicity and things like that," he said. "But I didn't think we had anything to hide. We tried to fully cooperate. Coming in, you don't expect people to do this - you expect people to be fair and honest."
Huggins said the attorneys made several charges in the report filed with the NCAA in October 1997 that he insisted at the time should not be considered violations.
The university disputed several of those when it filed a response this past June to an NCAA letter of inquiry, and the NCAA eliminated some when it presented its case at an infractions committee meeting in August.
Among the charges dropped were that Williams' enrollment form for UC summer school classes was submitted on his behalf, and that assistant coach John Loyer contacted professors regarding Williams' enrollment and possible extra-credit work and delivered some of Williams' classwork to a professor.
Huggins said when he pressed the attorney as to why these matters were considered violations, he was told they were receiving "unofficial interpretations" from the NCAA.
"We then take them as fact, and then the NCAA comes in and does away with all but two of those (against Loyer)," Huggins said. "How do you explain that? I think, really, they ought to have to explain that.
"I think at the very least, if John Loyer's expected to pay for making some mistakes, then I think the law firm should be expected to pay for making all these charges - and being totally inaccurate on 19, 20 of them," Huggins said. "In other realms of business, if you're off that far, if you screw up that much, it's going to be tough to get another job.
"We've never gotten an apology, not 'We screwed up. We're sorry.' None of that. The best we got was, 'Well, that's your opinion.' At this point in time, it's more than my opinion. It's a fact."
Huggins said he argued during the investigation that NCAA bylaws did not preclude Williams from receiving academic assistance in summer classes at UC that were required for his junior college degree.
The rules say athletes who sign letters of intent and enroll in their school's summer term may receive assistance; it makes no mention of whether the athlete must be qualified for competition to accept that assistance.
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