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Friday, April 4
 
School looking into whether coach gave extra benefits

Associated Press

LAFAYETTE, La. -- The University of Louisiana-Lafayette has begun investigating whether its men's basketball program violated NCAA rules.

Athletic director Nelson Schexnayder said Thursday the school is checking to see whether basketball coach Jessie Evans provided extra benefits to senior guard Anthony Johnson.

The school also wants to find out whether a woman whose car Johnson has been seen driving could be considered a representative of the school's athletic interests, Schexnayder said.

The Times-Picayune of New Orleans reported Thursday that one of Johnson's former coaches who advised him during the recruitment said Johnson, of Chicago, lived with Evans for several months when he first arrived in Louisiana in 1998.

Johnson also has been seen driving a 2002 Cadillac Escalade owned by Christiana Dartez, who at one time registered another vehicle at Evans' Lafayette address. Dartez also has given Johnson money, according to her former in-laws, who produced a canceled check for $300 made out by Dartez to Johnson, The Times-Picayune reported.

"We take the allegations very, very seriously,'' Schexnayder said. "We want to act and not just sit back and wait for something to happen.''

NCAA rules prohibit college athletes from using their athletic status or future earning potential to receive extra benefits.

That is defined as "any special arrangement by an institutional employee or a representative of the institution's athletics interests to provide a student-athlete or the student-athlete's relative or friend a benefit not expressly authorized by the NCAA legislation.''

Schexnayder said he spoke with Evans on Tuesday, and "he adamantly denies any NCAA violations.'' But Schexnayder said he had little additional information to offer after meeting with the coach.

"We just met briefly,'' Schexnayder said. "We didn't talk yet. I am not conducting the investigation. We will have someone outside of athletics conduct the investigation, and when we have our findings we'll make those public.''

Earlier this week, Evans told the newspaper that Johnson used Evans' address only to receive mail. On Tuesday, Schexnayder said some of the school's athletes have used their coach's address for that purpose.

"It's easier to deliver packages. Sometimes it's quicker than university mail,'' he said.

Schexnayder said part of the investigation will focus on whether Dartez has any ties to a sports agent or ties to the school that under NCAA rules would make her a representative of the school's athletic interests.

Schexnayder said he hopes to have the investigation completed within a month.