Ticket Traders Draw Penalties

The Register Guard (Eugene, OR), November 23, 2002 | Go to article overview

Ticket Traders Draw Penalties


Byline: BOB CLARK The Register-Guard

The University of Oregon has suspended football player Quinn Dorsey from future games until he makes full restitution for more than $2,000 he gained by trading complimentary tickets for apartment rent reductions.

The UO also announced Friday that it has pulled ticket privileges from prominent Eugene businessman George Wingard Sr. and three employees of his property management firm for their role in the scheme.

`We wanted to send the message not only to our donors but our student-athletes that this will not be tolerated and if it does occur there will be penalties,' UO athletic director Bill Moos said. `This is, if nothing else, a wake-up call to all involved. We won't tolerate this.'

The UO investigated the rent-for-tickets arrangement for five months and released the results after a public records request by The Register-Guard.

Investigators found that two UO football players traded 40 complimentary football tickets over the span of three seasons in return for a total of $2,610 in rent breaks at apartments run by EDCO, Wingard's management firm.

The value for Wingard, his employees and at least three friends was $1,294 for football tickets in the 1999, 2000 and 2001 seasons.

Though the report didn't identify the players involved because of federal student confidentiality laws, Dorsey confirmed his involvement and said he knew it was an NCAA violation. He said he didn't propose the swap but wouldn't say who did.

"It was just me not being smart," he said. "It was a mistake I made.'

Investigators concluded that Dorsey, a defensive end, received benefits worth $2,040. He has repaid $675 of that, the report said.

The second player involved in the scheme has completed his eligibility, so the UO had no recourse to penalize him. He received rent reductions worth $570, the report said.

In letters sent to Wingard and two of his employees, Moos said the university would `disassociate' itself from the three - Wingard for one year and two apartment managers permanently.

That means they're in effect "divorced from the athletic department" - they can't donate money or receive tickets or anything else not available to the general public, said Bill Clever, a member of the UO compliance staff. So, for example, they could buy tickets to individual games but couldn't buy most season tickets, which generally require a donation.

The university submitted its findings to the Pac-10 and characterized the infractions as secondary violations of NCAA regulations that forbid athletes from receiving benefits not provided to other students. The university argued that the breach shouldn't result in penalties against the school.

`While not attempting to minimize the severity of the violations that did occur, the university has determined that the isolated and even secretive nature of the scheme as well as the limited number of student-athletes involved do not rise to the level of providing the university with an extensive recruiting or competitive advantage,' UO law professor James O'Fallon wrote in a cover letter to the Pac-10.

`No coaching or other university staff members had knowledge of the scheme,' he wrote. O'Fallon is the UO's faculty athletic representative to the Pac-10 and NCAA.

Moos said the penalties proposed by Oregon are `pretty stiff.'

`For that reason, I would hope it's accepted by the conference and the NCAA,' he said.

The report was delayed by more than a month because Wingard wouldn't meet with UO officials until Nov. 15, Moos and Clever said.

The report found that two of Wingard's employees, Patty Jaszkowski and Crystal Roy, proposed trading rent reductions for the tickets after previously receiving complimentary admission within NCAA guidelines - from not only the two UO football players targeted in the investigation but an unspecified number of other UO athletes. …

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