The NCAA apparently has undertaken an extensive investigation into the recruitment of Tito Horford, the 7-foot basketball player from the Dominican Republic who is currently enrolled at Louisiana State, which went so far as to require Horford to sign an affidavit stating there were no NCAA rules violated by LSU before allowing him to enroll.
"We (LSU) asked him to sign a statement which asked, 'Did LSU or any of its representatives offer you or any of your family members anything?' He agreed to sign before we signed him to a scholarship," LSU Coach Dale Brown said.
When asked why he required Horford to sign a legal document, Brown said: "My wife is a teacher at LSU, my daughter is a student here. I wouldn't jeopardize my team and I wouldn't involve myself with Tito Horford unless there was a clean slate."
Brown said "the NCAA spent quite a few hours asking Tito about his recruitment" two weeks ago. Sources indicated the NCAA has talked to coaches and assistant coaches at several schools in an attempt to find out if any schools had offered illegal inducements to Horford in exchange for his considerable basketball talents.
Ed Tapscott, coach at American University, told The Washington Post two weeks ago that representatives of one school offered Horford's brother a job, another offered the player cash and an automobile, and still another offered an insurance policy and a cash payment to Horford's club team in the Dominican. Tapscott said, "This is perhaps the worst recruiting situation in history."
Tapscott said he has "direct knowledge of cheating, on two schools" from conversations with Horford, and still is considering going to the NCAA with what he knows, but only if Horford is not made "a scapegoat." Tapscott was out of town yesterday and could not be reached for comment.
The NCAA, as is its policy, refused to confirm an investigation was under way.
Among the schools that heavily recruited Horford are LSU, Houston, Kentucky, UCLA and Florida State.
Horford, who moved from the Dominican Republic to Houston to attend Marian Christian High School three years ago, originally signed a national letter of intent to attend the University of Houston. But earlier this summer the NCAA ordered Houston to declare Horford ineligible to play there when an assistant coach, Donnie Schverak, made a visit to Horford's home in the Dominican Republic during the NCAA's nonvisitation period.
After the NCAA ruled out Houston, the scramble for Horford began. LSU seemed out of the running after Horford was quoted as saying he never would attend that school and Brown was quoted as saying he didn't want him there, in part because he felt Horford had solicited offers from recruiters.
Even as Horford was about to drive to Baton Rouge, La., at the end of August, Brown said he called Georgetown Coach John Thompson to see if Horford could be convinced to attend GU. Thompson, however, indicated he never thought Horford seriously considered coming to Georgetown and did not contact him.
LSU officials say Horford will be unavailable for comment until Oct. 15. But Brown said in a recent interview, "I didn't want him at LSU. I said it, but I didn't have all the facts. If anyone says I should eat crow, then fine, I deserve that. But I didn't have all the facts when I first opened my mouth."
Brown would not say what he learned that changed his mind about Horford.
Brown was asked if he worried about what an NCAA investigation might turn up at his school.
"You can indict the pope if you hang around the Vatican long enough," he said. "I'd be a likely candidate for people to say, 'Shut him up, find out what he's doing.' But we've gone to great pains to make sure we've done things properly."