University faces potential violation in Dunbar case
By ERICA THESING
When Notre Dame appeared before the NCAA Committee on Infractions June 4, the University and athletic association gave indications the Kimberly Dunbar matter would be resolved in four to six weeks.
But nearly three months after that hearing, Notre Dame’s culpability in the case involving a former football booster is yet undetermined, and speculations the University will face its first major violation of NCAA regualtions abound.
The case dates back several years, when Dunbar, a member of the now-defunct Quarterback Club, embezzled $1.2 million from her employer, Dominiack Mechanical, Inc., of South Bend. She reportedly spent $18,000 of that on former Irish football players, funding gifts including trips to Las Vegas and Chicago.
Now, Notre Dame officials expect the University to face a major violation, according to an Aug. 7 article in The Chicago Tribune. The report cited an anonymous source who said the committee would likely decide that staff members under former head coach Lou Holtz did not bring information about Dunbar's gifts to the attention of Notre Dame compliance officials quickly enough.
Such a finding would raise questions about a lack of institutional control over athletic programs, namely football. If the committee determines the University did not adequately officiate its football program in this case, Notre Dame likely will receive its first major violation.
Possible penalties for a major violation include loss of television appearances or restrictions on recruiting or postseason play.
David Swank, chairman of the committee and a University of Oklahoma law professor, said he could not comment the pending case, and Mark Jones, director of enforcement for the NCAA, said his staff isn't privy to information on the committee deliberation.
A statement released by the University immediately following the hearing said the NCAA was unlikely to reach a decision “for at least four to six weeks.” That duration is the NCAA’s standard response time for matters heard by the committee, according to the organization’s Web site.
University spokesman Dennis Moore said the extra time is not considered a delay.
“[The four to six week guideline] was assuming that they had felt after that hearing that they could just sit down and make a decision,” he said.
“If they wanted to review things further, obviously that stretches out the process. But its not unusual. In fact, it would be unusual if the process did not take a considerable amount of time.”
The NCAA first became aware of the Dunbar case in March 1998 when Notre Dame self-reported the matter.
One year later, the association’s Enforcement staff completed its investigation and recommended a secondary violation, which could carry sanctions like probation without penalty or a minor loss of scholarships.
The Committee on Infractions, however, decided to review the case itself.
Pursuant to that decision, the University hired two outside attorneys from Bond, Schoeneck & King, a firm specializing in NCAA cases, to help prepare for the June 4 hearing.
University president Father Edward Malloy and University executive vice president Father William Beauchamp led the delegation to Indianapolis.
They were joined by other administrators and athletic department representatives, including vice president and general counsel Carol Kaesebier, associate vice president and counsel William Hoye, athletic director Mike Wadsworth, head football coach Bob Davie, associate athletic director for legal issues Melissa Conboy and director of compliance for the department of athletics Mike Karwoski.
On June 3, ESPN aired a report citing excerpts from Dunbar's diaries. Although Moore said the diaries contained nothing substantial, the entries carefully documented Dunbar's relationships with the players.
The next morning, the Notre Dame delegation and its hired attorneys spent nearly five hours before the committee, explaining their response to Dunbar's activities. After the hearing, Beauchamp read a prepared statement.
“Our response today to the Committee on Infractions was as our response to the NCAA has been from the beginning, forthright and complete, and it included the significant steps the University is taking to guard against any recurrence of incidents such as this,” he said.
The University continues to await word on its fate as this year’s Irish squad prepares for Saturday’s season opener against Kansas.
Throughout the summer, the committee sought the opinion of Enforcement staff members on various issues, Moore said. He explained such dialogue continued through last week, suggesting the committee is still deliberating.
When a decision is reached, Jones said, Notre Dame will likely receive 24 hours notice prior to a public release of the verdict. The NCAA public relations office will then coordinate a release with the University's public relations office.
Dunbar, who was sentenced in September to four years in prison for the embezzlement, will be released Oct. 17. She earned the early release date with good behavior and the completion of a degree program through Indiana University.
She is said to have had relationships with several of the players, including Jarvis Edison, the father of her daughter.
The Chicago Tribune and the Associated Press contributed to this report.
All News Stories for Friday, August 27, 1999