| ||Associated Press|
MADISON, Wis. -- Wisconsin suspended three basketball
players Wednesday, including two from its Final Four team, for
eight games for receiving unadvertised discounts at a shoe store.
Men's basketball players Maurice Linton and Travon Davis and
women's player Krista Bird must sit out the first eight games this
season, close their open accounts at the Shoe Box and repay more
than $500 in benefits they each received to restore their
eligibility, the school said.
Another 37 winter and spring student-athletes who received extra
benefits at the store won't miss any games. But they must close out
their accounts and repay the amount of the extra benefit to a local
Sixteen of those athletes who received benefits of between $100
and $299 also must perform 24 hours of community service. They
include Roy Boone, Andy Kowske and Mark Vershaw, all senior
starters on the men's basketball team.
Fellow starter Mike Kelley received extra benefits of less than
$100 and will only have to close his account and make a donation to
The university's action Wednesday brings the number of Badgers
athletes disciplined for receiving substantial discounts on shoes
and clothing at the Shoe Box to 121.
In August, 26 football players received suspensions ranging from
one to three games for the discounts they received. Also, a women's
soccer player was suspended for two games as part of the
investigation that began after a report in the Wisconsin State
Journal this summer detailing purchases by eight members of the
Badgers' Final Four basketball team and 14 players from the Rose
Bowl champion football team.
The newspaper reported players received discounts of 25 percent
to 40 percent and interest-free credit.
Linton, who averaged 4.5 points and 2.7 rebounds, is expected to
be the team's starting small forward. Davis averaged 2.1 points
last season and likely will be the backup point guard.
They must serve their suspensions within the opening eight
games, not counting exhibition games. But the university has
appealed to the NCAA to allow the suspensions to be staggered over
the first half of the season, 13 games.
The NCAA allowed football players to serve their suspensions
over the first four games of the season.
Because Bird was the lone suspended women's basketball player,
Wisconsin can't appeal to the NCAA for an extension, school
officials said. Bird, a 6-foot-3 senior center, was not expected to
start this season after averaging 1.8 points last season.
Women's coach Jane Albright declined an interview request
Wednesday but released a statement that read: "We will have to
deal with the NCAA sanctions as we do with all adversity in life;
break it into small amounts that we can handle and spread it over
time for the least effect on all concerned."
The school still must complete its self-report to the NCAA. If
the violations constitute a major rules violation, it would be the
university's third such infraction within the last decade.
The wrestling program was put on probation in 1994 for improper
use of booster funds that included impermissible benefits to
Last year, the NCAA found the athletic department committed a
major rules infraction because coaches and staff members received
reimbursement for expenses from a boosters fund without approval
from the chancellor. That probation was scheduled to end in
Still, the NCAA didn't punish the university as a repeat
offender, in part, because it self-reported those violations.
Associate athletic director Vince Sweeney said the school hoped
the NCAA would take its cooperation in the latest violations into
"We're always concerned about institutional control," he said.
"We're always concerned about extra benefits issues. It's part of
what you live with when you have 750 student-athletes and you have
a highly visible athletic program with lots of boosters and season