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 Thursday, October 5
Potential punishment ranges in 17 cases
 Associated Press

MINNEAPOLIS -- Seventeen former men's basketball players must respond to allegations they cheated while at the University of Minnesota or risk losing class credits or even their degrees.

"Very soon, the letters will be going out to the students," university provost Bob Bruininks said Thursday. "We hope to move forward on this very quickly."

The charges are in a report from a blue-ribbon committee of professors who spent eight months investigating allegations of cheating in the men's basketball program.

Professor emeritus Warren Ibele, who chaired the six-member committee, wrote that the investigation has been "difficult and disheartening for all involved."

"It has been, in some ways, a long procedure," he said and added, "The committee's work is done."

Each of the former basketball players faces one to six charges of misconduct. Those players are no longer on campus. One retired professor was also implicated.

Federal law prevents the university from releasing the names of those charged. The report does not provide details of how the alleged cheating happened.

But in the past, many former athletes have been accused of letting Jan Gangelhoff, a former office manager in the academic counseling office, do their coursework.

Bruininks said the 17 students' transcripts have been frozen until they respond to the findings in the report.

The freeze will only affect them if they try to transfer to another school or if a potential employer requests records of classes and grades.

If they respond, the students are entitled to a hearing and appeal of the findings in the student judicial system, he said.

Students who are found guilty, or don't contest the findings, could lose credits, have grades lowered or lose their degrees.

Bruininks said the retired professor implicated in the report is probably beyond the school's reach for most disciplinary action.

However, he said the professor will not be eligible for some benefits other retired faculty enjoy, such as office space, computer equipment and clerical help.

The former professor also will not be allowed to teach classes, as some retired faculty members do.

Bruininks has said one reason more university employees weren't found responsible for fraud is that those who were most involved in academic cheating are already gone, including Gangelhoff and academic adviser Alonzo Newby.