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College basketball

Arkansas pays price with 3 years of probation

©Associated Press
April 18, 2003

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. -- Arkansas lost two football scholarships and its athletic program was placed on three years of probation Thursday after the NCAA determined a university booster overpaid athletes for work at his trucking company.

The Razorbacks were spared bans on postseason play and television appearances.

The NCAA took into account Arkansas' self-imposed penalties. The school cut eight football scholarships over four years and one scholarship in men's basketball in 2003-04.

Arkansas also must give up six of its 56 paid recruiting visits in the next school year. The school reported the infractions in 2000.

"Given the serious and repeat nature of these violations and the involvement of a prominent athletic representative, the committee concluded that additional penalties were warranted," the NCAA said.

The probation covers all sports and ends April 16, 2006. But if there is a major violation at Arkansas before April 16, 2008, the sport involved could be subject to the death penalty.

"We're going to focus on the future," Arkansas chancellor John White said.

Football coach Houston Nutt said the resolution relieves him of a burden during recruiting.

"There's no longer a 'maybe you'll lose TV games or bowl games,' " Nutt said. "You don't have to go into a living room and defend yourself anymore."

The governing body said the case involved major violations by Arkansas for the third time -- after football in 1964, and basketball in 1997. The NCAA said a repeat-violator penalty was not appropriate because the 1997 violations were found to be "technical and inadvertent" and did not result in probation.

The NCAA also said Arkansas committed a major violation when trainer Dean Weber received $21,100 from boosters after being disciplined by the university in a campus drug case.

The main violation, however, was overpayments to athletes hired by Dallas businessman Ted Harrod's Truck Service Inc. Harrod's company was accused ofoverpaying 20 athletes by an average of $215 each in the 1990s.

Two of the 20 athletes were hired by Harrod before they enrolled, an NCAA violation.

The university and the NCAA said players worked and wereoverpaid. The infractions committee called it being "paid for work not performed."

"I think from the committee's view, whether you're calling itoverpaid, overcompensated for work not performed was immaterial," committee chairman Thomas Yeager said. "In the end, the fact is you had kids going in there working for a couple of hours and walking away with $100, $150 or $200."

Yeager said the committee recognized Harrod's close relationship to athletic director Frank Broyles, but found no evidence that he knew of the overpayments.

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