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Former Kentucky Assistant Disputes Summary

August 26, 2005

LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) _ A former Kentucky assistant coach on Friday disputed the summary of his testimony made in a court filing by a former colleague, in which the colleague alleged Franklin said high-ranking university officials were aware of violations being committed by the football program.

Tony Franklin, an assistant with Claude Bassett under then-Kentucky coach Hal Mumme, said that Bassett’s attorneys, in a filing made Wednesday in U.S. District Court, offered a skewed version of Franklin’s testimony during a deposition.

Bassett, who was Kentucky’s recruiting coordinator, is the central figure in an NCAA investigation that led to major sanctions. He sued the University of Kentucky Athletic Association, the NCAA and the Southeastern Conference last September, claiming they conspired to keep him from landing another college job and asked for $50 million in damages.

In May, a judge dismissed all claims against the SEC and most claims against the NCAA and the university, but allowed a fraud claim against the university to stand, as well as a claim that the NCAA interfered with his prospective contract negotiations.

According to Bassett’s filing on Wednesday, Franklin testified during an Aug. 19 deposition that recruiting violations occurred both before and after Bassett’s hiring. The filing also claims Franklin said Bassett wasn’t the only one at Kentucky who committed violations, and that the violations occurred with the implied consent and to some extent, with the participation of administrators including former university President Charles Wethington, former athletics directors C.M. Newton and Larry Ivy and the university’s current NCAA compliance director Sandy Bell.

In an e-mail sent Friday to various ``concerned parties,″ Franklin said that as of Thursday afternoon, he had not received a copy of the transcript of his deposition ``and therefore have not read, agreed, or disagreed, to its contents. No one else, therefore, has received or read my signed sworn deposition.″

Franklin said ``the document provided to the court was not my signed deposition″ but instead ``a one-sided summary of my testimony _ prepared and written by attorneys for Bassett.″

Bassett claimed in his filing that Franklin alleged Ivy told Franklin he ``wanted to cover up these violations and avoid scandal to the University by firing Coach Bassett″ and that Ivy went to Franklin ``specifically looking for evidence to fire Coach Bassett,″ which Franklin provided.

Robert Furnier of Cincinnati, one of Bassett’s attorneys, said he had no comment ``about anything Tony might say,″ citing a judicial order not to comment about Franklin’s testimony.

But Gregory Kaiser of Cincinnati, another attorney for Bassett, asked U.S. Magistrate Judge James Todd, in a court filing late Friday afternoon, to lift that restriction. Bassett wants to use evidence obtained from Franklin’s testimony to respond to a motion for dismissal filed Thursday by the university that liberally quoted from a deposition given by Bassett.

Bassett’s motion said that his attorneys had agreed to keep confidential limited portions, but not all, of Franklin’s testimony. Franklin said earlier Friday that there had been ``an agreement between all parties not to talk, or communicate publicly in any format, about the contents of my deposition, until I had time to read and sign the documents.″

Bassett’s motion included 13 pages from Franklin’s 2001 book, ``Fourth Down And Life To Go,″ in which Franklin discussed his time as a Kentucky football coach. Kaiser said the book excerpts corroborate much of what Bassett claims Franklin said during his recent testimony.

Bassett resigned in November 2000, shortly before the NCAA began investigating Kentucky. In 2002, the NCAA placed Kentucky on probation for more than three dozen recruiting violations committed between 1998 and 2000. The Wildcats were also banned from a bowl game for one season and ordered the forfeiture of 19 scholarships over a three-year period.

Bassett was found in violation of NCAA ethical conduct bylaws and effectively was banned from working for any NCAA school for eight years. At the time, Bassett acknowledged breaking NCAA recruiting rules.

Bassett now is the athletics director and football coach at a high school in Robstown, Texas, near Corpus Christi. Mumme is now the head coach at New Mexico State University.

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