|Sunday, August 25
Updated: August 28, 11:13 AM ET
Allegations lead to investigation of Huskies
By Andy Katz
Two NCAA investigators will be in eastern Washington Monday and Tuesday to discuss whether the University of Washington committed recruiting violations over the past four months after allegations were raised by three other Division I coaching staffs in the state, ESPN.com has learned.
Coaches at Gonzaga, Eastern Washington and Washington State confirmed that the NCAA would be on campus to talk about Washington and the Huskies' recruitment of nearby Clarkston High 6-foot-10 rising junior center Josh Heytfelt and a few other potential illegal contacts regarding players in the state. Heytfelt told ESPN.com that the NCAA also would make a house call to discuss a potential rules violation.
Washington coach Lorenzo Romar, who was hired in April from Saint Louis to replace the fired Bob Bender, was aware of the allegations but wouldn't comment on the specifics.
"This is unbelievable,'' Romar said Sunday of the allegations by opposing coaches.
Romar said he was unaware the NCAA and the other coaching staffs had been in contact with each other but he welcomed the NCAA to the state to hear his side of the story.
"I would pick them up and take them where they need to go,'' said Romar, although he obviously won't be in Spokane to greet the NCAA team.
The NCAA doesn't comment on ongoing investigations or on whether it is officially investigating a school or player.
Heytfelt told ESPN.com that Washington assistant Cameron Dollar was in Clarkston last week when he was working out, but Heytfelt declined to say whether Dollar watched him work out. Heytfelt said he would have no further comment.
The month of August is a quiet period, which means coaches cannot evaluate prospects but can initiate a phone call to the prospect once a week. Prospects can call coaches as many times as they want in a week. Recruits can make unofficial campus visits during August. But watching a player work out during a quiet period is a violation that could range from a warning to preventing the school from signing that player.
The other allegation in question was a phone call to the house of rising junior wing David Pendergraft of Brewster, Wash., who had already committed to Gonzaga. Pendergraft's father, Mike, told ESPN.com that Dollar called in August to see why mail was getting sent back to Washington. Calling a rising junior is prohibited under NCAA rules. Juniors can't receive phone calls from a school until March of their junior year.
"I was asleep when I got the call from Cameron Dollar,'' Mike Pendergraft said. "He knew David had committed to Gonzaga but he was just feeling me out to see how committed we were. I'm not sure why he called.''
The NCAA also called and left a message for Robert Lowden, coach of the Gary Payton Pinnacle All Stars Elite in Seattle, after it was told Washington had gone to practices in June -- a quiet period. Lowden told ESPN.com that he hadn't yet spoken to the NCAA but there were several schools, including Washington, that attended practices during quiet periods "viewing us when they shouldn't have been.'' The team practiced at Rainier Beach High School, home to rising 6-5 seniors Lodrick and Rodrick Stewart and 6-10 junior-to-be Chester Giles of Rainier Beach.
The twins told the Seattle Times on Sunday that they would sign with Washington, but a source close to the situation said the Stewarts were going to go in another direction, and Sunday night the twins announced they would go to USC. All of the Washington-area schools also were recruiting Giles.
The fourth allegation involves 2004 top-10 player 6-8 Marvin Williams of Bremerton, Wash. North Carolina assistant Doug Wojcik and Gonzaga assistant Billy Grier were at an open-gym workout with Dollar watching Williams July 31 when Dollar allegedly spent 45 minutes talking to Williams' mother, which isn't allowed. Sources said both staffs would be willing to tell the NCAA that they witnessed the Dollar-Williams conversation.
Marvin Williams told ESPN.com that he doesn't remember his mother being in the gym. "I remember the open gym, but not her being there,'' Williams said. Attempts to reach Williams' mother were unsuccessful.
Coaches from Gonzaga, Washington State, Eastern Washington and North Carolina weren't thrilled with Washington. Sources told ESPN.com that Washington State's Paul Graham and Eastern Washington's Ray Giacoletti expressed their dismay with Romar. Arizona State's Rob Evans tried to act as a peacemaker on the issue, trying to facilitate Romar and Graham to discuss the allegations. Evans, who is friends with both coaches, said he has no problems with Romar and isn't involved in making the allegations.
One head coach told ESPN.com that he was deeply concerned about the advantages Washington was getting over the summer by its alleged extra contacts. The state's coaches were going to express to the NCAA that something had to be done or they would also feel like they should receive extra contacts with area players. They also wanted Washington to be prohibited from signing players in question.
Romar is one of the most-respected coaches in the game, earning one of the five coaching spots on the Basketball Issues Committee a few years ago with Oregon's Ernie Kent, Duke's Mike Krzyzewski, San Francisco's Phil Mathews and Kentucky's Tubby Smith. Dollar was a former player at UCLA when Romar was an assistant. Romar went on to coach at Pepperdine before Saint Louis, where he hired Dollar before getting the Washington job -- his alma mater.
Andy Katz is a senior writer at ESPN.com.