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By John Brown
Arizona Daily Wildcat
February 23, 1998

Pac-10 accepts UA's disciplinary actions for book-loan violations

The Pacific 10 Conference announced Friday it will not further penalize the UA Athletic Department after 12 student-athletes received textbooks in violation of NCAA rules.

In a public reprimand, the Pac-10 accepted the University of Arizona's self-imposed disciplinary and corrective actions - accepting responsibility for the infractions and making changes in its book-loan program - as adequate punishment for the violations, said Associate Pac-10 Commissioner Jim Muldoon.

The university also declared the 12 athletes ineligible until they repaid the value of the books. No player was ineligible for more than two days.

An independent investigation last semester by Tucson attorney Cary Sandman revealed that nine of the student-athletes were given textbooks listed as "optional" by their professors, and three others got books not related to their classes - both NCAA violations.

"Conference investigators agreed the actions (by the UA) were just," and no additional penalties were required, Muldoon said of the Pac-10's visit to campus last month.

Muldoon refused to categorize the severity of the violations.

"We don't compare them to other incidents," he said. "We try to deal with each case as a separate event."

Athletic Director Jim Livengood said Friday he was made aware of the conference's decision last week at a Pac-10 meeting.

"The good news is that this brings closure to it," Livengood said.

At the start of each school term, books are distributed to eligible full-scholarship student-athletes based on their official school schedule. Books are property of the Athletic Department and must be returned at the end of each semester.

Athletic department book vouchers were given to students when they needed to purchase a book after the initial distribution period.

The probe into the UA book-loan program was sparked by this summer's arrest of Mikal Smith, 21, and Leland Gayles, 20, two then-UA football players accused of stealing books from book bins at McKale Center and using stolen book vouchers to buy books and later sell them for cash.

Sandman's report, which was submitted to the Pac-10 in January, concluded that Ruben Berry, former coordinator book-loan program, failed to ensure NCAA and university policy were properly followed.

"The investigation confirmed that ICA (Intercollegiate Athletics) academic office staff routinely neglected to review student athletes' official course registration schedules prior to issuing (them) cash book vouchers," the report states.

The book-loan program has been moved from McKale to UA Associated Students Bookstore and is now managed by the UA's NCAA compliance office.

An Athletic Department employee at the bookstore now verifies a student's enrollment before issuing textbooks, and cash vouchers have been eliminated.

Smith and Gayles face fraud charges stemming from the alleged scam. They are trying to enter a diversion program, which, upon successful completion, would result in probation and the dismissal of their criminal charges.

Both players no longer attend the UA.

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