|Thursday, June 12
Report: Offensive coordinator to become interim coach
ESPN.com news services
SEATTLE -- Rick Neuheisel is out as Washington's football coach, less than a week after acknowledging betting on the NCAA basketball tournament.
"This is a sad night for me because I've poured a lot of myself into this job -- and it was a great job," Neuheisel told KING-TV on Wednesday night.
"I am not the guy they're portraying me to be," he said. "I'll find new challenges. I will hopefully scale new ladders."
Athletic department spokesman Jim Daves said a news conference was scheduled for Thursday (1 p.m. ET). He didn't disclose further details.
The NCAA prohibits coaches from gambling on college sports.
The Seattle Post-Intelligencer, which reported late Tuesday that Neuheisel was told by athletics director Barbara Hedges that he would be fired , also said that offensive coordinator Keith Gilbertson will become interim coach.
"I'm not going to get into any of that," Gilbertson told KING-TV. "I am not going to answer any questions that way. Rick is still the head coach of Washington, and Rick is still my boss."
Neuheisel admitted last week he had placed bets with neighbors on the NCAA Tournament over the past two years, an action that NCAA president Myles Brand called "totally unacceptable behavior."
Neuheisel insisted he didn't believe he had broken NCAA rules because it was an informal off-campus pool. He also claimed an e-mail from the athletic department's compliance director gave him permission to participate.
"I have the right to appeal it," Neuheisel told KING-TV regarding his dismissal. "But it's a foregone conclusion that I am now done."
In a Wednesday interview with Sporting News Radio, Neuheisel was confident he would remain on the job.
"I think everybody will realize that not only did I not break any Washington rules, but I certainly believed and still believe that they are in accordance with NCAA rules," he said.
It was apparently the final episode for the 42-year-old Neuheisel after a series of brushes with trouble during his 4½-year tenure at Washington and, before that, for four seasons at Colorado.
Neuheisel, picked by Colorado at 33 to succeed the retired Bill McCartney, left Colorado in January 1999 with a 33-14 record and three bowl victories in four seasons.
More than three years later, in October 2002, the NCAA placed Colorado on two years' probation, reduced the number of its scholarships and restricted off-campus recruiting by coaches because of 51 secondary rules violations.
All but two occurred while Neuheisel was coach. His punishment was a seven-month ban on off-campus recruiting. The American Football Coaches Association later censured him for showing a lack of remorse.
Gary Barnett, Neuheisel's successor at Colorado, unsuccessfully argued that all the penalties should follow Neuheisel. It wasn't the first time Barnett found fault with his predecessor.
In February 2002, Barnett suggested that Neuheisel had tampered with Colorado's roster by phoning some of his former players shortly after taking the Washington job. Neuheisel said he was merely saying goodbye.
A Colorado spokesman did not immediately return a phone call from The Associated Press early Thursday.
Earlier this year, Neuheisel secretly interviewed with the San Francisco 49ers for their then-vacant coaching job but released a statement denying he had done so. He later admitted he had lied.
Neuheisel's charismatic, easygoing manner has been well documented, too.
He was known for taking Colorado players on rafting trips and sometimes played a guitar in the locker room. He had pop music pumped through the Husky Stadium loudspeakers during practice.
Neuheisel, who joined Washington for the 1999 season after replacing the fired Jim Lambright, was hailed for his 11-1 record and Rose Bowl title after the 2000 season and, the following season, his sensitive handling of the paralysis and subsequent death of safety Curtis Williams.
Asked whether it had hit him that he's no longer coach of the Huskies -- he was 33-16 in his four seasons -- he said, "I didn't want to think about it during the fight during this last week because I thought it would derail my efforts.
"So I'm probably not dealing with reality, but the facts are the facts, and we deal with them."
Neuheisel and three partners reportedly wagered $6,400 on the past two NCAA Tournaments and won $12,123, according to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, which said earlier reports of $20,000 in winnings were inaccurate. Neuheisel said some of his gambling winnings were distributed to schools and youth organizations.
"We've got a lot of different things for young people around here and we spread that money around," he said.
Contribution amounts weren't disclosed, but Bellevue Boys and Girls Club president Kathy Haggert confirmed Neuheisel recently donated to her organization. And school officials confirmed he donated to the Medina Elementary School PTA.
"Rick is a huge supporter of our school and I really appreciate all that he does," Medina Elementary School principal Betsy Hill said.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.