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NCAA: Former executive director says infractions committee caved in when it gave UNLV a sweeter penalty deal than Kansas got.

December 21, 1990| From Associated Press

NORMAN, Okla. — Kansas fans who are angry at the NCAA because UNLV appeared to get preferential treatment might be surprised to know they have an ally in Walter Byers.

"I think the Kansas reaction was justified," said Byers, who retired in 1987 after 36 years as NCAA executive director.

Furthermore, Byers said Thursday at a news conference announcing the publication of his memoirs that the NCAA weakened its enforcement ability by "caving in to the threat of a lawsuit" and negotiating a penalty to end its 13-year case with UNLV and basketball Coach Jerry Tarkanian.

"I really think the settlement of the case that the present committee on infractions worked out has seriously damaged the NCAA," Byers said. "I don't say it's fatal at all. But it really has hurt."

After being told in July it would not be allowed to defend the national basketball championship it won last year, UNLV sought a new hearing with the infractions committee. Eventually, it was given two alternative penalties, and quickly accepted an offer to compete in this season's tournament--with four starters back from last year's title team--and give up its television and tournament appearances for the following season.

Kansas, convicted of lesser penalties than those stemming from UNLV's 13-year-old case, was barred from defending its 1988 title and not offered any alternative penalty.

Byers said the infractions committee feared a lawsuit would be filed "in the friendly state courts" of Nevada and a temporary restraining order would keep the team eligible through the tournament.

"I must tip my hat to coach Tarkanian in that he beat the system and really came out with everything he wanted . . . a percentage on his team's tournament winnings and a national championship.

"By tipping my hat to him, I do not in any way agree with him. He did violate the rules. And I will never forgive him as long as I live for the vilification he directed toward our investigators."

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