While coaching at the University of Texas, George Washington men's basketball coach Tom Penders improperly had a secretary release a player's grades, then allowed an assistant coach to take the blame, according to sworn depositions filed Tuesday in Austin by an attorney for the player.
Sherry Rasmus, the attorney for former Texas forward Luke Axtell and Axtell's parents, filed the depositions as part of a lawsuit against Capstar Texas Limited Partnership, the parent company of KVET-AM, the radio station that broadcast the grades. A court date has not been set.
Axtell has transferred to Kansas.
"What [the Axtells] have accomplished with these depositions is getting the whole case out and getting people under oath to say who is truly responsible, despite what [Penders] might say," Rasmus said yesterday.
Penders has maintained that he was not responsible for releasing Axtell's grades in March 1998 after suspending the then-freshman for academic reasons. However, former assistant coach Eddie Oran, who originally took the blame for sending the information to the radio station via fax, said in a deposition that Penders orchestrated the release of the grades and had basketball office secretary Leslie Parks send the fax.
"I think clearly when he was responsible for the fax, he violated school policy, but more importantly, he violated a student's privacy," Rasmus said.
"If somebody said I told them to do something, it plain and simple didn't happen," Penders said yesterday from Rhode Island. "I would be glad to take a polygraph on that or anything else."
In April 1998, Penders resigned from Texas, accepting what he said was a $900,000 settlement (Texas AD DeLoss Dodds disputed the amount in an interview with The Post); in June 1998, Penders signed a multiyear contract to replace Mike Jarvis at GW.
GW Athletic Director Jack Kvancz said he investigated the allegations surrounding Penders at Texas and considers it a closed issue unless the allegations can be proven "beyond a shadow of a doubt."
Kvancz said he continues to believe the version of events told by Penders, a lifelong friend. "I researched it the best I could before we hired Tom and I found nothing. . . . When Texas bought him out, it was a pretty good sign to me that everything was kosher."