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Sunday, July 17, 2005

KU booster upset about inclusion in report

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Kansas University booster Bernie Morgan's vacation in Sun Valley, Idaho, hasn't exactly been peaceful.

Not since 2 p.m. Friday, when his name was made public in KU's report to the NCAA that indicated Morgan, Dana Anderson and Joan Edwards provided gifts to KU basketball players in violation of extra-benefit rules.

"I didn't feel there was a need to put my name in there for 45 million people to see on the Internet," said Morgan, who as of late Saturday night had received 19 phone calls from media and friends.

"I can see (KU officials) putting it maybe in an NCAA private memo, but not for 20 million people to see. Putting my name and Dana's and Joan's in there is ridiculous.

"It could have said three representatives of the university's athletic interests provided small gifts. Why put the names out there?"

KU's report to the NCAA, which indicated Morgan provided gifts of clothing to one former player and memberships in the KU Alumni Association to six in the graduating class of 1997, has been available since midafternoon Friday on kusports.com.

"I'm going to write a nice note to Lew (Perkins, AD) and say I'm sorry this happened, but I don't think it was necessary to put my name in there," Morgan said. "I will write out the violation involving me the way it should have been worded."

Morgan said it should be made clear he checked with KU compliance to see if it was OK to provide graduation gifts to the class of Jerod Haase, Jacque Vaughn, B.J. Williams, Scot Pollard, Joel Branstrom and Steve Ransom.

"I said to Roy (Williams, KU coach), 'You must be proud six are getting their degree. You ought to be proud.' I told him I'd like to do something for them, and he said to call the compliance department. I was told to wait until the last scholarship check cut them off from the University of Kansas."

Only recently, Morgan learned rules prohibited boosters from providing gifts from the time the players sign with KU until the time they die.

"I met Wayne Simien's parents at the church here (in K.C. area) and got to thinking after the season he'd be traveling all over the country and I'd like to get him a suit of clothes. I called the compliance officer and he said, 'No I don't think we can do that,'" Morgan said. "I talked to Rick (Evrard) the former NCAA officer and I said, 'Can I get Wayne Simien a wedding gift the day he gets married?' He said, 'We'd have to check that.'

"I said, 'Where are we living? I thought they'd taken that wall down in West Germany.'

"This whole thing is crazy. Someone should attack the courts to get a declaratory judgment to see if the NCAA is not dictatorial to communist de facto. What power do they have to prevent a kid getting a gift from the time he graduates until he dies? This (gift giving) is all much ado about nothing."

Williams says there's been only one positive in his name being tied to an NCAA investigation of Kansas University athletics.

"One thing good that's happened is I've gotten calls from a few former players. That part has helped make this thing go a little bit easier, having former players call and say they know we did it the right way," Williams said Saturday in an interview with the Journal-World.

Ex-Jayhawk Ryan Robertson is one to support the coach, who violated an NCAA extra benefits rule at KU.

"It had to be an oversight on his part. Coach would not have purposely OKed it (boosters giving graduation gifts to players) if it was a rules violation," Ryan Robertson said from Las Vegas, where he's playing in the International Hoops Summit. "It doesn't fit with any things he ever said or done in past. Most people will give coach Williams the benefit of the doubt and realize it was an innocent mistake."

Robertson has been "racking my brain" to remember if he received any graduation gifts from boosters.

"I know I didn't get any card for $300. As far as $50 at this point in my life that is not memorable to me," said Robertson, who has played professionally in Greece, the Netherlands and France the past several years.

Robertson says providing small cash gifts to grads sounds like a secondary violation.

"Let's say hypothetically coach Williams said, 'When you graduate somebody will give you $50 bucks.' You don't make a decision like that because you might get $50 or $400."

Former KU player Patrick Richey said Williams was strict in interpreting rules.

"Coach is so straightforward, always talking to Richard Konzem and Janelle Martin (former athletic department officials) about the rules. He would do everything possible within the rules of the NCAA to take care of his guys, maximizing meal money, but nothing illegal."

Richey says he can't remember receiving graduation gift cards from any boosters.

"I did receive several from family and friends and people close to me," he said. "You get so many ... I assume Coach was thinking everybody gets small graduation gifts."

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