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Coach's wife, kids flew to Ohio State game

SEATTLE -- The state Executive Ethics Board is reviewing the
use of a booster's jet to fly the wife and two children of
Washington coach Keith Gilbertson to the season-opening game at
Ohio State.

Jim Daves, an Athletic Department spokesman, and Michael D.
Hunsinger, a lawyer for the coach, said Gilbertson did nothing
wrong but has offered to reimburse the booster, Wayne Gittinger, a
lawyer and who has advised the coach on legal matters.

"The Gittingers have been friends of ours for years and years
and years," Gilbertson told the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

Brian Malarky, executive director of the ethics panel, told the
P-I the board received an anonymous complaint, adding that he plans
to present his findings to the board Jan. 12.

Reports on the complaint also were aired Monday night on KING
Television and published Tuesday in The Seattle Times and the News
Tribune of Tacoma.

The state ethics code bars state employees from accepting gifts
exceeding $50 "if it could be reasonably expected that the gift,
gratuity, or favor would influence the vote, action, or judgment of
the officer or employee, or be considered as part of a reward for
action or inaction."

Potential penalties include a reprimand and a fine of $5,000 or
three times the value of the gift, whichever is greater.

"It is our feeling that that this is not a violation," Daves
said.

"The law does not make it illegal for a longtime family friend,
or business associate for that matter, to give something to a state
employee, in this case a state employee's kids," Hunsinger said,
"and it doesn't prohibit somebody from donating something without
the intention of getting anything in return."

Gilbertson's contract provides $20,000 a year for "the expenses
of (his) family relating to reasonable airline fare, lodging and
other necessary and proper expenses related to university
athletics."

He is reimbursed for each trip and gets to keep any unused money
from his travel budget at the end of the year.

He told the P-I he accepted the offer from Gittinger because
there wasn't room for his family on the Huskies' charter for the
game Aug. 30 in Columbus.

The ethics probe is the latest in a series of investigations
into questionable conduct in the Huskies' athletic program.

Gilbertson was hired in late July after Rick Neuheisel was fired
by athletic director Barbara Hedges, who said he engaged in
high-stakes gambling in violation of NCAA rules and was untruthful
when he was first questioned about the matter.

Neuheisel is suing the university on a claim of breach of
contract and the NCAA on claims of defamation, conspiracy and
wrongful interference with his job.

On Monday, Hedges reiterated that Gilbertson will return for at least one more season despite Saturday's crushing loss to California and the team's overall struggles this season.

"He stepped into a very difficult situation at a very late
date," Hedges told The Seattle Times. "Some things this season
have not gone as expected, but he is an outstanding coach."

State and federal authorities also are conducting a joint
criminal investigation of a former team doctor who admitted
improperly handing out thousands of doses of prescription drugs to
Washington athletes.