Ex-coach denied gambling on recordings

KENT, Wash. -- A judge rejected an effort Thursday by Rick Neuheisel's lawyers to disallow tape recordings made by NCAA investigators as evidence in the coach's lawsuit against the University of Washington and the NCAA.

The tapes came from Neuheisel's interview with NCAA investigators on June 4, 2003, in Seattle. Early on the tapes, Neuheisel is heard denying that he gambled on NCAA basketball games.

Later, after consulting with a lawyer, Neuheisel admitted doing so. He was fired later that month as Washington's football coach, with university officials saying he wasn't fully honest when first questioned.

At a motions hearing, plaintiff's lawyer Greg Hollon argued that a key part of the interview was missing.

"The NCAA lost or failed to preserve the critical first portion of the interview, which sheds light on later portions," Hollon told King County Superior Court judge Michael Spearman. "This could cause confusion. The jury might not understand some answers in the proper context."

Spearman determined there is enough other information on the tapes to admit them as evidence. Neuheisel's lead attorney, Bob Sulkin, said the ruling won't detract from his case.

"The jury's still going to understand exactly what went on, so it's not a big deal at all," Sulkin said.

Spearman heard arguments on several other motions, filed by Sulkin and lawyers for the university and NCAA, to restrict evidence and testimony at trial next week. The judge will rule on those motions Friday.

Opening statements are scheduled for Monday.

Neuheisel maintains the university wrongfully terminated his contract and that high-ranking NCAA officials improperly influenced his employment and his job prospects by encouraging Washington administrators to fire him.

The NFL's Baltimore Ravens hired Neuheisel last week as quarterback coach.