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Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Chenowith sounds off on ‘mudslinging’

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Dallas Mavericks summer-league player Eric Chenowith heard some snide remarks Friday as he walked into The Long Beach (Calif.) Pyramid for his team's game against the Los Angeles Lakers.

"A couple guys said, 'We knew you guys were dirty all along. Kansas is always good, now we know why,'" Chenowith, a former Kansas University center, said of the reaction to former KU coach Roy Williams admitting to a violation of an NCAA extra-benefit rule.

"It bums me out," Chenowith said, referring to peers' sneers at what appears to be a secondary violation that isn't expected to require sanctions.

"Almost every player I've played with professionally has told me stories about $100 handshakes, going to a store and getting a free coat, having money offered to them when they were recruited out of high school, receiving FedEx envelopes of $12,000," Chenowith said.

"That didn't happen at KU. We were clean as a whistle. Now, there's all this mudslinging."

In an attempt to stop the "mudslinging," Chenowith contacted the Journal-World on Monday to tell his side of the graduation gift-giving saga that resulted in the basketball self-report to the NCAA, which KU released Friday.

"I never got a cent when I played at KU," Chenowith said, noting he received one graduation card from booster Dana Anderson after his senior season in 2001.

In the card was a check for about $300, Chenowith said.

"You know what I did with it? I went to the dentist and got my teeth cleaned," Chenowith said. "That's how ridiculous this is. The rest of the money was used to pay my June rent. I lived off campus. My scholarship ended May 15, and I still had to pay rent since my lease went through July 1."

Chenowith said that was it.

"I was never offered a cent in my four years -- ever. I don't know if it was people hating me or alums wanting to play by the rules.

"I remember times Jeff Carey (teammate) and I would go to breakfast and somebody would try to buy it for us. Jeff and I would refuse to the point it was almost embarrassing to refuse.

"We'd say, 'We can't. It's not right.' I can't imagine ever breaking a rule playing for coach Williams. I would never accept anything. I was scared to death of coach Williams in a situation like that."

Chenowith is upset the names of Williams and Los Angeles-based donor Anderson have been muddied.

"Mr. Anderson is one of the most respectful, kind individuals I've ever met in my life," Chenowith said. "You see the kind of money he gave for (KU's) the strength and conditioning facility. He loves the university. He would never break a rule to hurt the university.

"He gives a gift after a player has graduated, a goodwill gift cleared and authorized (by Williams) ... it's disrespectful for the NCAA to not let him do it if he wants to help out a graduating senior.

As far as Williams ...

"He was almost too strict," Chenowith said. "Winning by the rules is what makes it fun for him. If coach Williams was to win by cheating, he wouldn't feel good about it.

"This is so ridiculous. You look at the NCAA wanting to scrutinize coach Williams, who is the most honest, moral coach ... He and I had our differences, but I never lost respect for the guy. He'd never put our school's reputation on the line by doing anything against the rules."

Chenowith is so convinced of that, he has a radical suggestion.

"The NCAA needs to take an investigation of themselves, turn the focus on themselves, not what we're doing," Chenowith said. "I think the NCAA by and large is a hypocritical association. Nothing they do makes sense."

Chenowith, who played last year in China and the Philippines and also for the Long Beach entry in the ABA, has been invited to work out this August in Dallas as he continues to try to make the Mavericks' team. Chenowith, who has had back problems, said he was finally healthy.

  • Anderson comment: KU booster Anderson, who currently is on a cruise ship in the Greek Isles, punched a message into his BlackBerry wireless handheld Monday to provide the Journal-World with his first public comment on the NCAA situation.

He said he wrote checks for "only those players who had completed eligibility, and the checks were all for the same amount. Walk-ons and starters and those who left early were not included."

He said he would comment further when he returned to the U.S.

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