The independent news organization of Duke University

Bylaw change delays decision

A year after Corey Maggette admitted to accepting $2,000 from former Amateur Athletic Union coach Myron Piggie, Piggie sits in prison, serving a 37-month sentence, Maggette remains in the NBA and Duke remains unpenalized for using an ineligible player.

It remains unclear when or even whether Duke will receive any penalty.

Legislation adopted by the NCAA's Division I Board of Directors April 25--three weeks after Duke's men's basketball team won a national championship--transferred control over the case from the Championships and Competition Cabinet to the Committee on Infractions and made it possible for the infractions committee to choose not to punish Duke at all.

Associate Director of Athletics Chris Kennedy, who is in charge of NCAA compliance for Duke, said that the change has left the Maggette allegations unresolved and he did not know what the committee would do. The committee, which gathers eight times a year, may discuss the issue when it next meets Aug. 10.

"In the past, any situation where an ineligible player was used [came under the] purview of the Championships Cabinet," Kennedy said. "The [infractions] committee will now deal with it. We've been waiting.... We would all rather deal with the infractions committee."

Last summer, after Maggette's admission, Duke seemed likely to be penalized in some way. Possible penalties included revoking 45 percent of Duke's 1999 NCAA championship game profits--which would total over $220,000--and the school's runner-up banner. Now, the infractions committee can simply fine the team, rather than pursue the complicated process of reclaiming a school's tournament revenue.

Jack Friedenthal, dean of the George Washington University Law School and chair of the infractions committee, said that the push to change the process came from the Championships and Competition Cabinet. He said that, in the past, forcing a school to return a share of its profits also hurt the conference, which received a share of the profits as well.

"The Championships Cabinet wanted nothing to do with it," he said. "[So they gave] the Committee on Infractions the power to make sure the committee can impose monetary fines simply on the school, so that you don't have to worry about taking away the money [the conference] might have earned. You get at it through the back door. You level a fine."

David Thompson, assistant commissioner of the Atlantic Coast Conference, said that while the legislation might help absolve conferences from the penalty leveled at individual schools, there is no way to tell how the infractions committee might handle a situation because there are not yet any precedents. The committee has yet to signal how harsh its fines might be and the legislation offers no clues.

"I know when the legislation passed, one of the Management Council members from our conference expressed concern that the legislation as written... did not give any guidance or guidelines as to how much of a penalty they could assign or how little," Thompson said.

The legislation, which saw a 60-day override period end June 25, also changes section 31.2.2.4 of the NCAA bylaws. That section concerns championships and ineligible participation, specifically when a student-athlete competing in an NCAA championship is declared ineligible subsequent to the competition, such as Maggette was.

The legislation provides more leniency in the bylaws, which once mandated that the violator's contribution shall be stricken from the championships records, the team standings shall be adjusted accordingly and any awards involved shall be returned to the NCAA.

The legislation changes the language of the bylaws, replacing all the "shalls" with "mays."

For example, the bylaws now read, "the record of the team's performance may be deleted," rather than "shall be deleted."

"That was changed in April," said Jane Jankowski, a spokesperson for the NCAA. "The Committee on Infractions is putting together some [new] guidelines."

These guidelines for punishment may differ from those used when the Championships and Competition Cabinet required the University of California at Los Angeles to return funds in June 2000 after UCLA forward JaRon Rush, who left the school early, had been found ineligible after receiving $6,125 and a 1998 Chevrolet Blazer from Piggie.

Betsy Stephenson, associate athletic director at UCLA, said that the infractions committee would be better-suited to handle such cases as well.

"Before, the only real question the Championships and Competition Cabinet was dealing with was if the institution knew or should have known. Then [the penalty] was [either] 45 percent to 90 percent. Those aren't absolute, and every case is different."

UCLA reported the allegations to the NCAA, as did Duke when it found out there might have been irregularities with Maggette. Had UCLA known of Rush's ineligibility and played him anyway, 90 percent of its tournament proceeds could have been returned to the NCAA.

In the meantime, however, Duke's fate remains unresolved.

"We know it's before one of their committees and we're interested and awaiting," said John Burness, Duke's senior vice president for public affairs and government relations.

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