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Weber State To Sanction Men’s Basketball Program

August 6, 1996

OGDEN, Utah (AP) _ Weber State will announce on Wednesday the sanctions it will impose on its men’s basketball program for violating NCAA rules, school president Paul H. Thompson said.

The NCAA last spring investigated WSU’s program over allegations that it had violated recruiting rules, including charges that coach Ron Abegglen gave cash to at least one player, coaches bailed out another out of jail and that assistant coach Mark Coffman used the credit card of an assistant’s relative to pay a $600 bill for a player’s correspondence courses.

Coffman, 38, with WSU’s coaching staff for the past five seasons, resigned earlier this month.

Thompson and Allen Simkins, vice president of administrative services, met behind closed doors Monday with school trustees.

The meeting was to discuss the ``character and professionalism″ of individuals associated with the basketball program, Thompson said.

In April, the NCAA sent Weber State a list of eight ``major″ allegations against the basketball program. Over the last several months the school, led by attorneys Richard Hill and Doug Richards, has conducted its own investigation of the program headed by coach Ron Abegglen.

As a result, Thompson said the school will impose a series of sanctions on the program as well as individuals involved in it. He declined to elaborate.

Thompson would not talk about the status of Abegglen, WSU’s coach for the last five seasons. WSU spokeswoman Melinda Rock said Abegglen will attend the Wednesday news conference and answer questions then.

The Salt Lake Tribune said it had learned that Abegglen will keep his job.

Abegglen’s record at WSU is 97-50. The Wildcats lost the Big Sky Conference Tournament title game to Montana State in March after winning the tournament the previous year.

Simkins said the college’s response, due Wednesday after the NCAA granted a 30-day extension, will run several hundred pages.

``Quite honestly, I wish we had more time,″ Simkins said.

The sanctions were determined by a committee that included Simkins, athletic director Dutch Belnap, faculty representative Mike Norman, associate provost Kathleen Lukken and vice president Craig Hall.

The NCAA infractions committee can accept Weber State’s own sanctions, reduce or add to them. The committee meets in September at Atlanta.

The NCAA probe outlined several cases in which Abegglen or other members of his staff helped students obtain correspondence courses and in some cases paid for the courses. The courses often were with the Southeastern College of the Assemblies of God, who the NCAA is investigating for connections with 57 schools.

A letter of inquiry from the infractions committee asked the college whether grades from the courses were used to pump up student-athletes’ grade point averages to keep them eligible for competition.

The NCAA alleged Abegglen paid more than $800 in tuition for one student out of his own pocket. The student repaid about half that amount.

Abegglen and Coffman were alleged to have violated NCAA extra-benefits legislation by putting up a prospective player in their own homes for two weeks.

The Tribune said one of the sanctions may be to leave the vacancy created by Coffman’s resignation unfilled for the time being.

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