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Grand Jury in Memphis Indicts Kirk : Ex-Coach Is Cited on Taxes, Fraud, Tournament Payoffs

November 21, 1986|Associated Press

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Dana Kirk, former Memphis State basketball coach, was indicted Thursday by a federal grand jury on charges of obstruction of justice, mail fraud, income tax evasion and filing false tax returns.

If convicted on all counts, Kirk, 51, could draw a maximum sentence of 62 years in prison and fines of $912,000, the U.S. attorney's office said.

Kirk, who turned Memphis State into a top 20 contender, also was named in the 11-count indictment for seeking payoffs to have his team play in tournaments.

Kirk, who surrendered to federal authorities shortly after the indictment was issued, was released on his own recognizance pending an appearance next Wednesday before U.S. Magistrate Aaron Brown.

Kirk refused comment on the charges.

The coach was fired from Memphis State in September after seven seasons. Memphis State President Thomas Carpenter has refused to outline his reasons for firing Kirk, except to say it was in the best interest of the university.

Kirk testified before the grand jury last year and acknowledged that his personal finances were under review. He denied any wrongdoing.

Kirk was charged in the indictment with soliciting a $2,000 payoff to have Memphis State participate in a basketball tournament at New Orleans in 1982 and a $10,000 payoff to send the Tigers to a tournament at Los Angeles in 1983.

"The negotiations for Memphis State's participation in the 1982 Sugar Bowl tournament were terminated due to Kirk's demands for a personal payment," the indictment said.

The indictment said Kirk was paid $10,000 for pregame telephone interviews with the media covering the 1983 Winston Holiday tournament at Los Angeles' Sports Arena. The money was paid by tournament organizers and was required for Memphis State's participation in the event, the charges said.

Officials at Memphis State were not told about the payment, and by receiving the money, Kirk defrauded the university of the loyal and honest services required by his contract with the school, U.S. Attorney Hickman Ewing Jr. said.

The indictment also accused Kirk of trying to influence the grand jury testimony of Memphis businessman Ira Lichterman, who was expected to testify about basketball tickets allegedly sold by the former coach.

Kirk told Lichterman to lie or refuse to answer if the jury asked about such ticket sales, the indictment said.

The tax charges accuse Kirk of under-reporting his taxable income in 1982 and 1983 and of understating income received from summer basketball camps in 1980-1983.

In 1982, he reported an income of $122,620 when his actual income was $171,707, and in 1983 he reported an income of $164,482 when he actually made $281,338, the indictment said.

After his firing, Kirk agreed to a cash settlement of $170,833 for the 30 months remaining on his contract with Memphis State, the university has said.

Kirk had a record of 158-58 at Memphis State. He previously coached at Tampa and Virginia Commonwealth.

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