Despite admitting six major rules violations in its football and basketball programs, the University of Florida insists a compliance program in place since 1984 is working.
"It's like the IRS," school president John V. Lombardi said yesterday. "You can't prevent people from doing the wrong thing."
Florida acknowledged in an 1,100-page response to an official letter of inquiry from the NCAA that former coaches Galen Hall and Norm Sloan ran afoul of the rules. It denies, however, that infractions occurring from 1985 to 1988 demonstrated a lack of institutional control.
Lombardi said documents clearly show the school has appropriate checks and balances to maintain control "although from time to time people will stray from the straight and narrow."
Florida was penalized six years ago; as a repeat violator, the Southeastern Conference school is a candidate for the NCAA's so-called death penalty -- the temporary suspension of either or both sports -- but Lombardi doesn't expect such action.
The infractions acknowledged by the university include Hall giving improper salary supplements totaling $21,000 to two assistant coaches and providing cash to a player. Also, former assistant coach Larry Kirksey was cited for loaning a player $100 that came from a booster; Sloan providing an airline ticket for ex-Florida star Vernon Maxwell to attend a summer camp in Boston; Maxwell retaining an agent during his junior season, and Sloan letting a prospective student-athlete's mother use the return portion of the recruit's airline ticket. . . .
Larry Johnson says he will return to UNLV for his senior season even though the NCAA has barred the Rebels from defending their national title.
Johnson said Sunday that he would have applied for last month's NBA draft had he known the ruling was coming.
"Without question I sure would have come out," Johnson told the Dallas Times Herald.
Johnson said teammate Stacey Augmon also plans to return for his senior season.
Meanwhile, UNLV President Robert Maxson met with Coach Jerry Tarkanian and Athletic Director Brad Rothermel to plan an appeal. Maxson said the appeal will rest on a fairness issue -- the fact that UNLV was already penalized once for the infractions dating from the mid-1970s. The NCAA said they banned UNLV because it had not suspended Tarkanian, as it was ordered to do in 1977; Tarkanian has a court order preventing the suspension.
Attorney Stephen Stein said he has been asked by several players to represent them in an effort to block or overturn the ban. "The ones I've spoken to are quite hurt and they want action," Stein said. "They feel they should not be penalized for something that occurred when they were 6 or 7 years old."