The investigation of the alleged violations of NCAA regulations by the Fairfield University Men’s Basketball Team, published by the Connecticut Post in August, does not look like it will come to a close anytime soon. The investigation has been very slow and no one seems to be talking about it.

The NCAA process is both time-consuming and lengthy, according to Martha Milcarek, assistant vice president of public relations. She cited the delay due to the need to be thorough, scheduling difficulties and the usual backlog of NCAA case dispositions.

Bond, Shoeneck and King, a law firm based in Overland Park, Kansas has been hired by the University to investigate these allegations. The firm specializes in intercollegiate athletics and NCAA regulations.

Directly representing the University is Stephen Morgan, J.D. “These types of investigations do take a while” said Morgan in a phone interview. “We want to be concise and run through all our options”.

He refused to comment on allegations themselves. “I am not in a position to talk about that at this time” said Morgan. “Let’s complete the investigation and go from there”. He has no specific time frame in mind for the completion of the investigation.

According to Milcarek, the conclusion of this affair hinges on Bond, Shoeneck and King. Once they submit their report to Father Kelley, the ball can begin rolling.

There are two types of violations, secondary and major. Secondary violations are small mishaps. One example, given by Jack Jones, director of sports information, is if a coach informally meets with a prospective athlete and afterwards discovers that it was too early for contact with that athlete.

Major violations are publicly announced by the NCAA in an Official Notice of Allegations and a formal response from the university in question is expected. A major violation would be if it was “determined that an individual knowingly violated and made a benefit to the team in terms of competition” said Jones.

All member institutions of the NCAA are expected to self-report in an ongoing obligation. Secondary violations are quite common with most schools averaging about 4-5 a year, according to Milcarek.

“The NCAA process is based on a philosophy of self-reporting” said Milcarek. “Once the report is in, we can begin resolving the issues and imposing any necessary sanctions”.

Only if Fairfield is charged with violations will any sanctions be imposed. These sanctions or improvements in Fairfield’s intercollegiate athletic program will probably come at the suggestion of Stephen Morgan due to his expertise on NCAA regulations and procedures.

The probability of Fairfield being suspended from the NCAA tournament this year is slim, according to Jones. However, everything is up in the air until the report is submitted.

Fairfield is planning on publicly addressing the report, allegations of violations, any and all sanctions and the University’s stand on the issue which began last March.

At that time, an anonymous letter was received alleging that misconduct and improprieties existed in the men’s basketball program. An internal committee, the University’s Athletic Compliance Committee, consisting of Milo Peck, the faculty representative to the NCAA, Leo O’Connor, the Director of American Studies and Mark Guglielmoni, Director of Human Resources, found no evidence that these allegations existed.

In the August 5, 2003 publication of The Connecticut Post, Oscar Garcia and two unnamed former players alleged that numerous and serious offenses were committed by the Fairfield coaches.

Coach O’Toole supposedly exceeded the maximum twenty hour a week limit that his players could spend on basketball practice, games and other team related activities. Some players regularly received cash handouts from a team “booster”, Thomas Rosati, a Stratford lawyer and friend of head coach, Tim O’Toole.

Garcia admits to taking two cash payments, one $400, the other $600, to pay the tax on his scholarship. The university considers an international student’s scholarship to be income. According to Garcia, he repaid the first installment but not the second and he was never asked to.

The most serious allegation included was academic fraud. Garcia alleges that Coach Buzbee wrote term papers for players. Also, coaches arranged for players to have many tutors but the amount of help given was questionsable. Also, falsification of drug tests and unequal cash amounts given for meals during the ’99-00 Christmas break are among the claims.

With the season starting on November 21 with an away game against Harvard, hopefully the investigation will end sooner rather that later. “I am as anxious as everyone else is to see this finish” said Milcarek. “At the moment, I have no idea as to when this will be”.

However, student fans do not seem too disturbed by the allegations. Sharing his opinion is Robyn Atkachunas 05 “I have heard of many other teams doing this and I don’t think it should be as controversial as it is”.

“I know other teams and programs, especially the top notch programs, such as Tim O’Toole’s former employer, participate in this stuff and so it’s merely a leveling of the playing field” said Sean Barrett 05. “I am still going to attend the games and support our team.”

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