CHICAGO (AP) -- Minnesota could lose its 1996-97 Big Ten title as a result of the academic fraud scandal that's already resulted in NCAA probation and the loss of several scholarships.
Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany said Sunday that the conference compliance commission will examine the case later next month. If the committee decides the Gophers had an advantage because of the violations, Minnesota could be stripped of its title.
Minnesota was 31-4 and 16-2 in the Big Ten in 1996-97, when it advanced to the Final Four.
"It's a case-by-case basis," Delany said. "They look at who was ineligible at the time, what sort of competitive impact those people had on the team."
The NCAA placed Minnesota on four years probation last Tuesday and cut five scholarships in what was called one of the worst cases of academic fraud in 20 years. But the university's harsh self-imposed punishments -- including banning itself from postseason play last year and repaying money earned from three NCAA tournaments -- convinced the NCAA that a further postseason ban was unnecessary.
Minnesota also must take down banners and make no reference in school materials to the Gophers' participation in three NCAA tournaments, including the 1997 Final Four, and two National Invitation Tournaments, including its 1998 title.
"I think the penalty could have been more serious if the institution hadn't stood up and made some very difficult decisions," Delany said. "It was not only an academic fraud, but really a fraud on the institution."
The Saint Paul Pioneer Press broke the fraud story in March 1999, reporting that office manager and team tutor Jan Gangelhoff had admitted writing more than 400 papers for at least 18 players in a five-year period. The story prompted a nine-month, $2.2 million investigation by the university.
The NCAA report echoed the finding of Minnesota's internal investigation that former coach Clem Haskins and academic adviser Alonzo Newby participated in the fraud and helped cover it up. After several denials over many months, Haskins admitted paying Gangelhoff $3,000 in cash to help a student after she was ordered to stay away from the team.
"The program was severely punished in this situation, but the program should have been punished," coach Dan Monson said. "So should the university. But at least they let these players play for something."
"Until somebody beats us, we're going to have aspirations of going to the postseason because that's what the NCAA has allowed us to do."
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