MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- Another basketball coach is out at Minnesota in the wake of a second scandal.
Two years after an academic fraud scandal tarnished Minnesota's men's basketball program and led to the resignation of coach Clem Haskins, the school fired its women's coach Monday for a pattern of rule-breaking that included improper benefits to players.
The university's investigation found that Cheryl Littlejohn gave money to a player, bought clothing for others and interfered with an earlier inquiry by telling players to lie.
Littlejohn also required players to participate in pickup games before sanctioned practices began, which university general counsel Mark Rotenberg said would likely constitute a major violation to the NCAA.
"The university is deeply disappointed and troubled by these findings," said Tonya Moten Brown, who has oversight of the athletic departments in her position as vice president and chief of staff.
"Our coaches have an obligation to both know and follow the NCAA rules, and the pattern of disregard for the rules that is reflected in this report is simply unacceptable."
The men's athletics department already is on four years' probation for the academic fraud scandal uncovered in March 1999. But Rotenberg said he believed the NCAA would consider the latest allegations independently of the men's scandal since they occurred before November 2000, when the men's probation went into effect.
Littlejohn's firing has already caused at least one top recruit to rethink her decision to attend Minnesota.
Janel McCarville, a standout high school player from Wisconsin, said she is still leaning toward joining the Gophers, but hopes to talk with Minnesota women's assistant coach Marc Wilson about her future.
"Littlejohn was a pretty good part of the reason I chose Minnesota," McCarville said. "But I still like the college and the players."
Littlejohn, who was in the fourth year of a five-year contract worth $101,800 annually, had a 29-81 career record and a 7-57 mark in the Big Ten.
Littlejohn, who had been on paid leave since the investigation began earlier this spring, was out of town Monday and unavailable for comment. Her attorney, Blessing Rugara, told The Associated Press he felt Littlejohn was wrongfully terminated and that the university wanted to fire her to avoid paying the final year of her contract.
According to the report, Littlejohn acknowledged to investigators she gave $200 to a player in fall 1999 because, she said, the player was in desperate financial straits.
But the player in the report told investigators she was not in a dire situation and, in fact, was able to obtain a $500 advance from the university by mid-September.
The report also found that Littlejohn:
-- Interfered with university officials during an earlier investigation into housing and transportation arrangements.
-- Called at least one player and manager into her office to rehearse a story she wanted them to give investigators.
-- Let players stay overnight at her house and make free long-distance calls in September 1999.
-- Gave money to a recruit to pay recreation center admission for several kids, including a recruit's sibling, in fall 2000.
-- Bought groceries and used them to make a meal at a recruit's home during the 1999-2000 academic year.
-- Required a recruit to participate in individual workouts with a player or players in summer 1998.
-- Sold personal clothing at very low prices to players.
-- Had a student assistant make contact with a recruit after a high school game.
-- Bought or arranged purchase of a restaurant meal for a player or players.
Women's athletics director Chris Voelz said she was in the process of evaluating Littlejohn's on-court performance this spring after the Gophers' 8-20 finish when 21 students approached her two months ago.
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