Howard University's internal investigation into possible NCAA rules violations includes re-examining the circumstances of a recruiting violation by the women's basketball program that had been determined to be "secondary," or minor, sources familiar with the probe said yesterday.
The review involves a visit to Howard's campus three years ago by then-recruit Mona Gail Baker, a 6-foot-2 forward who has played the past two seasons for the Bison, the sources said.
This brings to three the number of Howard programs known to be under scrutiny. Howard officials have notified the NCAA and the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference of possible violations in the men's basketball and baseball programs and hired Robert L. Clayton, a New Orleans-based attorney, to conduct the internal investigation.
Sources yesterday said the men's basketball probe focuses on the recruitment of Donte Lincoln, a 6-6 junior transfer from a junior college in Los Angeles, and a team trip to a Washington Wizards game at MCI Center last season.
The university has received an NCAA letter of inquiry alleging that the baseball team used ineligible players several years ago.
The Howard women's basketball team has won the MEAC championship and played in the NCAA tournament in three of the past four seasons. A source said new information about Baker's visit to Howard became available through a former teammate.
Sources said Baker, who is from Durham, N.C., had considered her visit to be unofficial. But she went to a movie and dinner with Howard coaches and players and was transported in a university van. A.B. Williamson, Howard's athletic compliance officer, determined that those activities constituted a secondary violation of NCAA rules.
Howard women's basketball coach Sanya Tyler declined to comment last night. Clayton also declined to comment, and university spokeswoman Donna Brock said no university or athletic department officials would comment at this time.
MEAC Commissioner Charles Harris said that, as a general policy, the conference does not comment until an investigation is complete.
Much of the inquiry into the men's basketball program centers on Lincoln, who came to Howard from Los Angeles Technical Trade College. Sources said the inquiry is looking into Lincoln's academic credentials, events surrounding a recruiting trip here by him and his junior college coach, and possibly inconsistent statements about the visit by people involved with it. The inquiry is seeking to determine whether NCAA rules concerning academic fraud were violated, and whether spending in excess of NCAA limits occurred during the recruiting visit.
The investigation also is examining whether the team trip to the Wizards game last season constituted an extra benefit for players in violation of NCAA rules.
Howard Coach Kirk Saulny and Richard Wells, Lincoln's coach at Los Angeles Technical Trade College, did not respond to telephone messages left at their offices yesterday.