Bozeman and Accuser Reach Court-Approved Agreement
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) _ Former California coach Todd Bozeman claims he was vindicated by a court-approved settlement Thursday with a woman who accused him of harassment, but he still could face legal action in the case.
Bozeman also remains at the center of unrelated accusations by the parents of a former Cal basketball player that have led to an NCAA investigation of the Bears. The parents claim their son, Jelani Gardner, was offered cash to attend Cal.
Bozeman and former Cal student Suzanne Wilson, who had accused the coach of threatening her and making repeated phone calls to her with ``highly sexual connotations,″ approved the handwritten agreement after hours of discussion.
By reaching the agreement, a temporary restraining order that had been imposed on Bozeman _ mandating that he stay away from Wilson _ was dropped.
Wilson acknowledged ``that she may have misinterpreted conversations of Mr. Bozeman″ in the agreement. Bozeman acknowledged he ``had no direct knowledge of his accusations against Ms. Wilson’s character or health.″
In earlier court filings, Wilson had charged that Bozeman’s repeated phone calls to her had sexual connotations and that ``he no longer treated me as a student, he started treating me like a mistress.″
Bozeman had countered in court documents that Wilson was the one who sought a sexual relationship with him, that Wilson was having sex with Cal basketball team members and that he was told by a team member that Wilson had herpes.
But nearly 5 1/2 hours of discussions in the Alameda County Superior courtroom of Judge Dawn Girard led to little more than Bozeman and Wilson agreeing to tone down their rhetoric. There was no monetary settlement, and each side retained the right to sue the other.
``The one thing that meant the most to me was clearing my name of someone saying I sexually harassed them, or implying that,″ Bozeman said.
Bozeman claimed in the earlier court documents that he loaned Wilson $2,000 for law school, but demanded the money back when he found out it was being used as part of an illegal pyramid scheme.
Bozeman said he repeatedly tried to call Wilson and finally visited her to demand the money, threatening to report her involvement in the scheme to police.
Wilson had charged that Bozeman was interested in investing in the scheme, and used that as an excuse to pursue a relationship with her. She claimed he called her up to three times a day, from places such as Bermuda and Rhode Island, and threatened her.
In Thursday’s agreement, Wilson said she may have misinterpreted Bozeman’s ``effort to obtain his money as being an expression of a sexual interest in her personally. She acknowledges that this may not have been the case, and she regrets any such misunderstandings that may have resulted.″
Bozeman said he is not sure if he will pursue legal methods of getting the $2,000 back.
Girard called on the friends and family of both Bozeman and Wilson to end the rounds of accusations that have been exchanged between the two sides.
``I think it’s in everybody’s interests that it end here today, forever,″ the judge said. ``If you care for your friends and your loved ones at all, you will end this matter today.″
Bozeman, forced to resign as Cal coach last week after leading the Bears to a 63-35 record in 3 1/2 years, also is under fire for alleged recruiting violations.
Athletic director John Kasser acknowledged last week, when he sought and accepted Bozeman’s resignation, that Cal’s basketball program was the subject of an NCAA investigation and acknowledged ``there could be a few things out there″ that could attract the interest of investigators.
Two reports this week said the NCAA is investigating a charge that a member of Gardner’s family was paid anywhere from $15,000 to $30,000 to help persuade the talented point guard to play for Bozeman at Cal.
The San Francisco Chronicle and Sports Illustrated both quoted Tom Gardner, Jelani’s father, as saying an agreement for payment was reached during his son’s recruitment that included Bozeman, former Milwaukee Bucks assistant coach Butch Carter and former agent James Casey.
Sports Illustrated said Tom Gardner secretly taped a conversation in which he discussed the money with Bozeman.
But Bozeman said Thursday that the elder Gardner’s claim was bogus and accused the parent of blackmail.
``I’ve never had a conversation with Tom Gardner, taped or otherwise, that would support his outrageous claim that I would pay him money,″ Bozeman said. ``I never promised him, or any member of his family, money _ not even a bus ticket.″
Jelani Gardner, a 6-foot-6 guard who played for the Bears the past two seasons, transferred to Pepperdine in April. He may be hoping that if Cal is placed on probation, the NCAA would waive his one-year waiting period before he is allowed to play for Pepperdine.
Tom Gardner said he brought the issue to the NCAA two years after the alleged payment in an effort to get Bozeman fired. The elder Gardner reportedly was unhappy with his son’s playing time.
Bozeman said now that his problems with Wilson temporarily are resolved, he can deal with the accusations by Gardner _ perhaps in the courts.
``My next priority is to deal with the Gardners and the NCAA,″ he said. ``That will definitely be the next step I take.″