The University of Nevada Las Vegas will conduct an internal investigation into the school's recruitment of basketball player Melvin Love, university President Robert Maxson said Friday.
The investigation is in response to a story in The Times describing how UNLV used an outside representative in apparent violation of NCAA rules in the recruitment of Love, a backup center for the Rebels last season.
"We consider any allegation of this nature to be serious," Maxson said. "We certainly hope that, when these things come up, there are no problems, no improprieties (found). That's always our wish. But we always take these things seriously. And so what we've done is ask Brad Booke's office--the compliance office--to investigate."
Love appeared in 19 games, including two in the NCAA tournament, for UNLV as a junior during the past season.
A determination that Love was recruited improperly by UNLV could affect his eligibility to play for the Rebels in 1991-92 as well as bring an institutional penalty.
UNLV also is in the process of responding to a letter of official inquiry from the NCAA listing 29 areas of alleged rules violations, many stemming from the school's recruitment of former New York high school star Lloyd Daniels. The school has until June 1 to respond to the charges in the letter, and the case is expected to be considered by the NCAA's Committee on Infractions this summer.
Maxson said he believes that Booke, who is in charge of compiling UNLV's response to the NCAA charges, also can deal with the Love matter in a timely fashion.
"Right now, we're facing some pretty tight deadlines," Maxson said, "and I don't know where Brad is. But I chatted with him about (Love) just in the context of 'This is another area that could be problematic, and we need to take a look at it.'
"Brad was already familiar with (the situation), and he told me it was on his agenda."
The Times, citing interviews with persons familiar with the situation and court and state records, reported Tuesday that members of the UNLV basketball staff accepted the assistance of a Salt Lake City businessman, Vic Deauvono, in the recruitment of Love.
A former star at Cajon High in San Bernardino, Love played two seasons at Salt Lake Community College before going to UNLV. He signed a letter of intent to play at UNLV in November of 1988 but did not become eligible until the middle of the 1990-91 season.
The Times reported that Deauvono, who at one time served as an unofficial strength and conditioning coach at Salt Lake Community College, steered Love to UNLV and then arranged special tutoring in Las Vegas to help Love become eligible to play for the Rebels.
NCAA rules prohibit representatives of a university's athletic interests from being involved in recruiting as well as providing certain benefits, including tutoring, for prospective student-athletes.
Although Deauvono has no obvious ties to UNLV, he had frequent dealings with UNLV basketball staff members, including Coach Jerry Tarkanian, during Love's recruitment.
Under NCAA rules, anyone known by a member of a school's athletic staff to be assisting in recruiting can be deemed a representative of that school.
Deauvono said he has "helped" Love and other players who have spent time at Salt Lake Community College but has no ties to UNLV or other NCAA schools.
Tarkanian said that Deauvono was not involved in UNLV's recruitment of Love.
Mark Jones, an NCAA enforcement director who is overseeing the UNLV case, declined to discuss the Love situation specifically.
Speaking in general terms, however, he said that new information that surfaces in the latter stages of an infractions case can result in the NCAA providing a school with a supplemental letter of official inquiry containing additional charges.
Under such a scenario, Jones said, a case might be delayed in its presentation to the infractions committee or require an additional hearing by the committee.