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Date Posted: 14:43:49 04/19/03 Sat
Author: SBU Trustees MUST GO
Subject: NY Daily News Article
St. Bonaventure continues house-cleaning in wake of scandal
BY DICK WEISS
New York Daily News
NEW YORK -(KRT) - Gothard Lane was the athletic director at St. Bonaventure University for 3 1/2 years.
Now he finds himself out of a job, the victim of a purge that also claimed the out-of-control, basketball-obsessed school president, Dr. Robert Wickenheiser, head coach Jan Van Breda Kolff and assistant coach Kort Wickenheiser, the president's son, in the wake of a major scandal involving center Jamil Terrell
Terrell was admitted - then ruled eligible - with a certificate in welding from Coastal Georgia CC rather than the NCAA-mandated associate's degree.
Lane's problem is that he does not want to be lumped in with the residue from this cesspool.
He said Friday that he tried to put a stop to the problem before it got out of control - which is what happened when the Atlantic 10 presidents voted to ban the Bonnies from the conference tournament and the players decided to boycott the last two regular-season games.
Lane and Barbara Questa, the St. Bonaventure athletic compliance director, rejected Terrell's admission. But Lane says he was called into a meeting shortly thereafter with the president and Van Breda Kolff. "They started talking about making Jamil eligible, kind of picking and choosing from the rules, ignoring the most critical part of the rules," Lane said.
Lane then left town for a conference. When he returned to the Olean, N.Y., campus there was a meeting of the Board of Trustees and Lane took his concerns to James Gould, a board member who is chairman of the athletics committee.
"He suggested to me, `Write the president a memo, listing your concerns,' which I did. The president E-mailed me back an answer, once again quoting chapter and verse from the NCAA manual and, once again, picking and choosing and then saying, `This confirms his eligibility.' "
That night, Lane went to Wickenheiser's house for dinner, along with several vice presidents. "I went to him again, reiterated my concerns and basically he told me, `I'm tired of your objections. The case is closed,' " Lane said.
The next day Lane E-mailed a description of his conversation with Wickenheiser to Gould, who forwarded it to William Swan, the trustees' chairman, who called him four days later.
"You know how trustees are," Lane said. "They don't want to get involved in the day-to-day operations. So the final conclusion was: `Okay, this is the president's decision. If it goes wrong, it's on the president.' "
Lane's intentions were noble, but it appears no one wanted to get involved. "Gothard Lane did raise concerns, but the system we had set up didn't respond as maybe it should have," Swan admitted at the press conference the other day to announce findings of an internal investigation.
The Rev. Dominic Monti, Bona's interim president, went further, saying Lane "stood up for what he thought was right. He got caught in the middle of a difficult situation."
Lane was concerned about his job security. Wickenheiser had a reputation for handing out pink slips.
"There was an air of intimidation around the building," he said. "I had no doubt if I went to the president on this again, I would be fired."
An internal report released Wednesday cited Lane for signing off on the team's 2002-03 certification eligibility in October - a document Questa refused to sign - and then instructing Questa not to interact with the men's basketball staff on compliance issues.
"I took my compliance officer away from basketball two different times because the president called me into a meeting in January and told me to fire her," Lane said. "The basketball staff . . . said she was harassing them . . . . I told him that wasn't the case.
"Then he called me back into the office again a month later and asked me to do the same thing. I finally said to him, `There's only a month left in the season and I can't do away with my only compliance officer.' We're a small school. Well, the NCAA inferred I did it to weaken compliance and that wasn't the case."
Then, in February, Lane says, he discovered Wickenheiser was involved in changing an incomplete to a withdrawal in a Spanish course for Terrell so the player could keep his grade point average over 2.0 and remain eligible. He called Gould again. Gould called Swann, who eventually put a gun to Wickenheiser's head to call A-10 commissioner Linda Bruno.
Wickenheiser did, claiming there might be a problem with Terrell's ineligibility. The conference rushed the material to the NCAA, which immediately ruled Terrell ineligible.
"People will say, `Well, you could have done more,' " Lane said. "Well, I've never known an AD who had to turn in his president. . . . That's why I went to a couple of trustees. I'm looking for the 1,000-pound gorilla to take on the 800-pound gorilla."
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