2000Beat Reporting

U Basketball program accused of academic fraud

By: 
George Dohrmann
Staff Writer
March 10, 1999

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At least 20 men's basketball players at the University of Minnesota had research papers, take-home exams or other course work done for them during a five-year period, according to a former office manager in the academic counseling unit who said she did the work.


Four former players, Courtney James, Russ Archambault, Kevin Loge and Darrell Whaley, confirmed that work was prepared for them in possible violation of the student code of conduct and NCAA regulations. Another former player, Trevor Winter, said he was aware of the practice.

James, Archambault and the office manager, Jan Gangelhoff, said knowledge of the academic fraud was widespread.

"These are serious allegations," University of Minnesota President Mark Yudof said Tuesday. "We've called in legal counsel. I want to look into this promptly. But they are just allegations at this point."

Jan Gangelhoff

Jan Gangelhoff, former Office Manager of the Academic Counseling Unit (Jean Pieri/Pioneer Press)

Gangelhoff, 50, said that from 1993 to 1998 she estimates she did more than 400 pieces of course work for players, including some starters on the 1996-97 Final Four team.

"They bring in these high-risk kids, and they know that everything they did in high school was done for them," Gangelhoff said. "It's got to stop somewhere."

Gangelhoff said she "struggled for a long time" whether to disclose the allegations. When asked to prove them, Gangelhoff provided the Pioneer Press with computer files containing more than 225 examples of course work for 19 players, dating to 1994, that she says she wrote and players turned in. Gangelhoff said she kept only about half her files.

Gangelhoff also provided printed copies of five pieces of course work that she said had been turned in by students. Some of the papers had grades and instructor's comments written on them. All five pieces also appeared in Gangelhoff's computer files.

Elayne Donahue, the retired head of the academic counseling unit, said she was unaware of the fraud but warned athletic department administrators that the office manager was tutoring players in violation of department policy and was ignored.

Coach Clem Haskins, interviewed briefly at his hotel in Seattle where the Gophers play Gonzaga in the first round of the NCAA tournament on Thursday, said the allegations were "news to me."

"I've been here 13 years, don't you know me, what I stand for as a man, as a person? I haven't changed," Haskins said. "All I'm trying to do is win a game. All I'm worrying about is beating Gonzaga. It's all I'm concentrating on. All I'll say is I will talk when the tournament is over."

Haskins referred all further comment to McKinley Boston, the vice president of student development and athletics, who questioned the credibility of Gangelhoff's allegations.

"Some of her current allegations seem to be inconsistent with statements she made in the past," he said. "We've had similar allegations made by others (about Gangelhoff), but this is new stuff."

Two former players denied Gangelhoff's allegation that she did work for them. Jermaine Stanford and Ryan Wolf said they completed all their own assignments. Three former players, Micah Watkins, Voshon Lenard and Hosea Crittenden, refused comment. Bobby Jackson said he and Gangelhoff did the work on the papers, with Gangelhoff typing them.

Gangelhoff said she did work for four players on this year's team: Kevin Clark, Miles Tarver, Antoine Broxsie and Jason Stanford. Clark and Tarver refused comment at their Seattle hotel Thursday night. Broxsie and Stanford were not made available for comment by school officials.

Normally, under the team's media policy, all inquiries for player interviews must be directed through school officials.

Five other former players could not be reached for comment.

When asked how he knew players were getting papers done, Winter, who graduated with a degree in business, attended the Carlson School of Management and now plays for the Timberwolves, said it was "common knowledge. It was just one of those things. It was unfortunate.

"If you know your teammate's getting help, if you know that somebody's helping with papers, you just (have the attitude that) 'I don't want to get involved in it.' It's like if you have a friend that's a convicted felon. You don't go around telling everybody he's a convicted felon. You just kind of let it go. It's him. It's his life. It's his choices. It's not me."

The Pioneer Press investigation also found these allegations:

  • Gangelhoff said she was caught doing a take-home exam with Loge in November 1996 but was allowed to continue to work with players. Loge, who left the program because he wanted to play for a smaller school, confirmed the incident.

  • Gangelhoff and two players, Archambault and James, said an assistant coach drove the players to Gangelhoff's Minneapolis home for tutoring sessions, a possible violation of NCAA rules. Archambault was dismissed from the team in February 1998 for rules violations, and James chose to turn pro instead of serving a season-long suspension after being convicted of fifth-degree assault in August 1997.
  • Gangelhoff said she often had different players turn in the same paper for different classes, or she used excerpts from one paper in another. An analysis of the documents provided to the Pioneer Press revealed seven instances of duplication, including one paper that Gangelhoff said was turned in by three different players for three different classes.
  • Donahue, the academic counseling chief, denied a request to allow Gangelhoff to tutor Broxsie last spring after she had been approved to tutor him during the winter quarter. But Gangelhoff said that Haskins paid her $3,000 in cash to continue tutoring the player.

    "Clem Haskins absolutely denies any payment to Jan Gangelhoff for this purpose, or any other," Yudof said. "I think the world of Clem Haskins."

    Gangelhoff said Haskins paid her in cash and that after spending $1,000 to pay bills, she deposited the rest. When asked by the Pioneer Press for proof, she provided a bank statement showing she deposited $2,000 on June 29. But the statement did not indicate whether the amount had been deposited in cash.

  • Gangelhoff said she never was asked by a member of the coaching staff to do course work for players but said she considered it compensation when she was taken on trips to two road games, including accompanying the team when it played at the Big Island Invitational in Hawaii in the 1995-96 season. "Why else do you think I got to go to some of the places I did?" said Gangelhoff, who said she also attended team banquets and parties for the selection of the NCAA tournament field.

    Boston said he was unaware Gangelhoff had gone to Hawaii.

    "That's a new one on me," he said. "You will have to ask Haskins why he invited her along."

    A request Monday to interview athletic director Mark Dienhart; Alonzo Newby, the team's academic counselor; and Chris Schoemann, the school's NCAA compliance director, was ignored by the school's sports information staff. And phone messages left for Newby and Schoemann were not returned.

  • Gangelhoff said some of the first papers she wrote were edited by Newby and former assistant coach Milton Barnes, now the head coach at Eastern Michigan University. Barnes, reached by telephone, denies the allegation.

  • "Coach Barnes would read them and say things like: `Now, is this something so and so would say?' And if it wasn't, I would go back and rewrite it to make it sound more like something the player would write," Gangelhoff said.

    Barnes said: "I don't know anything about it. I don't recall anything like that. She may have me confused with somebody else, that's all I can say."

    Boston said the school has self-reported one potential NCAA violation involving Gangelhoff.

    On Oct. 26, Dienhart sent Gangelhoff a letter disassociating her from the program even though she had left the school the previous summer.

    In the letter, obtained by the Pioneer Press, Dienhart wrote that the school had "recently reviewed activities in the men's basketball academic counseling unit." It said the action against her had been "reviewed and approved" by the NCAA.

    Gangelhoff said after she received the letter, "I came to the conclusion that something has to change" and she decided to make the allegations public.

    An NCAA official denied comment about the letter.

    "There was reason to question her based on one incident that came to our attention," said Boston, who refused to give further details about the incident. "Our NCAA compliance officer (Schoemann) investigated her and basically determined that in one particular instance there was an allegation that was valid. We self-reported that one violation to the NCAA. But beyond what was determined in that one particular investigation, everything she is alleging is new information."

    Gangelhoff said Schoemann questioned her twice about possible violations, but otherwise her actions went unchecked. Her first meeting with Schoemann came after Gangelhoff was caught helping Loge look up answers for a take-home exam during study table in the Bierman Athletic Building.

    Loge, now attending Fergus Falls Community College, confirmed that Gangelhoff helped him look up the answers and admitted as much to Schoemann. Gangelhoff told Schoemann she helped Loge but claimed that she was unaware it was a take-home exam and that she couldn't help him. Gangelhoff said she was never reprimanded or questioned further about the incident. Loge said he was not disciplined for the incident. Gangelhoff said Schoemann confronted her again a few months later and asked whether she was tutoring basketball players.

    "I lied," Gangelhoff said. "And those were the only two times I was questioned."

    Archambault said he never was questioned by Schoemann, and James said he was questioned once but lied to Schoemann.

    "He asked if Jan did papers. Of course, I said no," James said. "At that time, I didn't want to get Jan in trouble. And, at the same time, I didn't want to get coach Haskins in trouble."

    Gangelhoff said when she left the university she never intended to reveal that she did course work for players. But the letter of disassociation angered her, she says, because she never was asked to give her side of the story.

    "You look at other programs that are successful that have strong academics, and why can't (Minnesota) have that?" she said. "What are we doing wrong that we can't get these kids to learn? . . . Something has to change or (Minnesota) will continue to bring kids in and then throw them away."

    Gangelhoff said she did the course work to help academically at-risk athletes she thought were unprepared for college. Academic services' policy forbids front-office personnel from working with student-athletes. But Gangelhoff, an American Indian, said she felt a particular bond with African-American student-athletes.

    "The big thing was that they trusted me. I was like a mother figure to them," Gangelhoff said. "My sisters and I, we treated them like family. We had dinners for them. We exchanged Christmas and birthday presents. And I always praised them."

    As office manager, Gangelhoff worked for Donahue. But she said Newby was aware of her tutoring activities.

    Gangelhoff said Newby arranged players' schedules so that they took courses with her or courses that she had already completed. Gangelhoff took classes from 1993 to '95 while employed full time as office manager. She received her degree in 1995 in InterCollege Program, a self-designed degree program offered by University College.

    Gangelhoff was in the same 1994 class with players Winter, Lenard, Crittenden and Jayson Walton.

    "We were in the same class, and, miraculously, we were in the same work group," Gangelhoff said. "I wrote the research paper (on alcoholism among American Indian youth)."

    Winter said: "It was a group thing, a group project. She's American Indian. She had a lot more input than the rest of us did. She was a member of the group. It was all above board. . . . That was four years ago. Who knows (the truth) if I say I did 95 percent of the work and she just proofed it. . . . She may have proofed it. She may have written the whole thing. I honestly can't tell you what everyone's contribution was. . . . In groups, somebody does do most of the work."

    James and Archambault said members of the coaching staff were aware that Gangelhoff was doing course work for players.

    Archambault and Gangelhoff

    Former Gophers player Russ Archambault, shown here working with Jan Gangelhoff, said "In the two years I was there, I never did a thing."

    "The coaches knew. Everybody (in the basketball program) knew," Archambault said. "We used to make jokes about it. . . . I would go over there some night and get like four papers done. The coaches would be laughing about it.

    James said, "Everybody knew we were going to see Jan."

    Although Archambault said Haskins was aware of the practice, Winter said the coach may not have known.

    "Clem is the basketball coach," Winter said. "When it comes to academics, there are coaches he puts in charge. If something is against the rules, he honestly, from me to you, has nothing to do with it. If there's things going on, he doesn't want to know about it. So, he has that buffer."

    The buffers, he said, were assistant coaches and academic advisers.

    Instead of the common practice of tutoring players at the Bierman Athletic Building, Gangelhoff said, she did most of her work at home. She said she drove players to her house or assistant coaches did. Archambault and James confirmed they got rides from an assistant coach, a possible NCAA violation. Under the NCAA's extra-benefits rule, athletes are not allowed services unavailable to other students.

    Donahue said she heard from one of her employees that a coach was driving two players to Gangelhoff's home in the spring quarter of 1998, when she was no longer approved to tutor. She said she passed that information on to Dienhart and Schoemann but said that to the best of her knowledge, no investigation took place. Gangelhoff said she never was questioned during that period or since she stopped tutoring last June.

    Once in the home, Gangelhoff said the players would either sit next to her as she typed the course work or be in an adjacent room.

    "It depended on what we needed to do," Gangelhoff said. "If it was a (homework) assignment and they had been to class, we would talk about what happened in class and what they heard and what they thought about the assignment. And then, they would grab the remote and go watch TV, and I would type (the assignment) up.

    "On the research papers, we would rarely meet. They would just give me the assignment and I would do it and then they would pick it up. Sometimes I would read the papers to them and explain them to them just in case they got asked in class about them."

    Archambault said: "I thought I was going to actually learn how to write a paper. I never learned in high school. But then I sat down and she just started typing."

    Bobby Jackson said Gangelhoff's primary role for him was as a typist, which is also a possible violation of the NCAA extra-benefits rule. Gangelhoff's files turned over to the Pioneer Press show 28 papers under Jackson's name.

    "She definitely helped me out," said Jackson, who also plays for the Timberwolves. "She didn't totally do all the papers for me. . . . When we were on the road, of course we needed help. She did the typing. Once we got everything arranged, she did the typing. I'm not going to say she sat down and totally wrote the paper by herself. No. I was doing my papers myself, with the research and everything. At some point in time, she was finding books for us and stuff. Never a point in time she wrote my paper for me."

    Winter said he understands why Gangelhoff's work became so prolific.

    "I think it was more of a fact of laziness than it was of people really needing the help or really cheating to get by," he said. "During the season it really gets to be a wear. Not to sound like a pampered athlete -- and I did the work -- some people lose concentration. They miss a class here and there when on the road and get behind a little bit.

    "It's easier to say, `Will you help me do this class?' or `Will you help me get this paper done?' than actually putting in the work. I would say the help the players got was more due to laziness than it was due to the fact they couldn't actually do the work."

    Donahue said she was not surprised to learn from the Pioneer Press last week of Gangelhoff's allegations that she did course work for players.

    "I believe anything is possible with Clem," she said. "But I am surprised by how widespread (the allegations are)."

    Donahue said she suspected Gangelhoff was working with basketball players in violation of department policy but did not know she was doing course work.

    "I believed she was tutoring, but because I didn't know where she was doing this, I had no proof," Donahue said.

    Donahue described her relationship with Haskins as "strained" and said the two often disagreed on Newby's roles and whether Newby should have reported to her (see related story, Page 1A). While still at the university, Donahue said she was hesitant to make accusations against Newby and Haskins for that reason.

    "There was a difference of philosophies. . . . I believed that (basketball players) should do their homework," Donahue said. "I believe they are in college to become educated. And I worked toward supporting students so they could earn a degree. My understanding of (the basketball program) was that you enabled students to become irresponsible. `It's OK to have someone else do the work.' "

    By the spring quarter, Gangelhoff had moved back in with family in Wisconsin. But she continued to do course work, often driving from Wisconsin weekly to meet with players at her sister's home in Minneapolis. But she stopped tutoring because Newby never asked her to continue working with players during the summer, and she began a new job in August.

    "It just sort of fizzled out," she said.

    Gangelhoff substantiated her claim of writing the papers by pointing out that she often duplicated work or had different players turn in the same paper for different classes.

    Gangelhoff said that one of the papers she produced, a 2,000-word essay comparing Martin Luther King Jr. to Malcolm X, was turned in by three players.

    "I did that all the time," Gangelhoff said. "Different courses meant different professors so they wouldn't know. I would turn in papers I had written for my classes or take parts of one paper that I used for one player and put in a paper for another player."

    In the papers supplied to the Pioneer Press, Gangelhoff at times wrote first-person essays for players. Gangelhoff said she tired of writing papers by the end of her tenure and wrote primarily about topics that interested her.

    Among the 1998 work Gangelhoff turned over to the Pioneer Press were papers she said players turned in on the menstrual cycle, women's gains in the workplace and eating disorders. Two papers referred to the plight of the same woman, a one-time employee at US West, and in one of those she identifies the woman as her sister, Jeanne Payer.

    Payer also tutored Archambault, Walton and Wolf, Gangelhoff said. Payer was approved to tutor by Donahue, who said she was unaware at the time of her hiring that Payer was Gangelhoff's sister. Payer could not be reached for comment, but Gangelhoff said Payer also did course work for the athletes in violation of NCAA rules during the 1997-98 school year.

    Gangelhoff asked that Payer, who is ill, not be contacted.

    "Alonzo (Newby) needed help. I needed help, and Jeanne was unemployed at the time," Gangelhoff said. "I said to Alonzo, 'Hire Jeanne,' and he thought that was an excellent idea."

    Archambault said: "In the two years I was there, I never did a thing. Either Jan or Jeanne did everything."


    Staff writers Judith Yates Borger, Kris Pope, Bob Sansevere and Jeff Seidel contributed to this report.

    Beat Reporting 2000