The Syracuse University basketball program has been accused of violating NCAA rules for the past seven years by a Syracuse newspaper in the first part of a two-day series that began yesterday.
The allegations, following a seven-month investigation by the Syracuse Post-Standard, quoted players as saying they received merchandise, cut-rate use of rental cars and cash gifts from boosters, including NBA Hall of Famer Dave Bing and Derrick Coleman, the No. 1 choice in the 1990 NBA draft.
In another development involving the newspaper's report, Texas A&M Athletic Director John David Crow said yesterday he has notified the NCAA that violations have occurred in the Aggies' basketball program. The Post-Standard quoted former Syracuse player Tony Scott describing possible NCAA violations in his recruitment by the Aggies. He transferred there and is sitting out this year.
Although the NCAA forbids paying student-athletes, 10 former Syracuse players told the newspaper they received hundreds of dollars from Bing and Bill Rapp Jr., a local car dealer whom Syracuse Coach Jim Boeheim has described as his best friend.
One player, identified as Rodney Walker, said a grade was changed so he could play in an important Big East Conference game, and players said they gave their game tickets to local businessmen for merchandise or to satisfy debts.
In addition, the newspaper reported that players over the last 10 years said businesses routinely gave them and their families clothing, meals and drinks -- and even legal help. Players also said boosters served as sponsor families, giving players meals, gifts and a place to do their laundry and wash their cars.
A Syracuse spokesman said "university officials are analyzing" the newspaper's report. "We have informed the NCAA about the report, and we will cooperate fully with them," said spokesman Robert Hill. "Independent and/or joint reviews by NCAA and Syracuse University will proceed as determined by the university's analysis and the guidance of the NCAA."
The university is neither confirming nor denying the allegations at this point, Hill said at a news conference. Hill characterized the allegations as "some are serious, but most are minor."
David Berst, NCAA assistant executive director for enforcement, said the NCAA would review the reports and "communicate with the school about how any followup, if necessary, will be conducted."
Berst declined comment on a statement by Boeheim that "the NCAA has looked at everything we've done. They have talked to guys who have left here, and nothing was ever said."
Boeheim, whose team is ranked third nationally, twice gave cash to players, according to the newspaper, which quoted former players Walker and Scott as saying Boeheim gave them each $20 on one occasion. Boeheim, according to the Post-Standard, denied those specific allegations against him and said, "We're clean."
Coleman, who signed a $15 million contract with the New Jersey Nets as the top pick in the 1990 NBA draft, was quoted as saying he sent current Syracuse star Billy Owens $500. Coleman said Owens called him, and he sent the money so Owens would have it to spend in Hawaii, where Syracuse played Nov. 23-25 in the Maui Invitational. Owens denied he received the money.
In the Texas A&M matter, Crow did not give specific details of violations, but said in a statement he learned several weeks ago of possible rules violations under first-year coach Kermit Davis Jr. Crow said he notified the university's compliance office, the NCAA and university administrators upon learning of the possible violations.
A university spokesman said the institution is continuing its internal investigation.
According to the newspaper, Scott said the transfer was brokered by talent scout Rob Johnson of Queens, N.Y. Scott said Johnson told him that he had been paid $2,400 to work two weeks this summer at a basketball camp operated by Davis. Scott also described several other possible NCAA violations in his recruitment.
Johnson and Davis both denied Scott's statement.