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Did Neuheisel lie to investigators?
Parsing his answers to questions
By Richard Linde, Posted 17 Feb 2005

During yesterday's trial proceedings, former University of Washington coach Rick Neuheisel continued to make a distinction between "participating" in an auction and betting or gambling. According to Ted Miller (Seattle Post-Intelliencer), who was at the trial, Neuheisel "admitted he wasn't forthcoming with investigators, contending he feared they were trying to entrap him in a web of illegal activity."

"I made the decision that I was not going to furnish complete answers until I had a chance to speak to counsel," Neuheisel said. "I was truthful. I was just not complete."

So did Neuheisel lie to NCAA investigators during the infamous meeting that took place on June 4, 2003? The text from the audio tape recordings of the morning and afternoon sessions between Neuheisel and NCAA investigators has some surprising answers.

The text, as obtained by the Seattle Times and published here, shows that Rick Neuheisel misled NCAA investigators in the morning session and then told the truth in a late afternoon session. (See Table below). In the morning session, Neuheisel parsed his words carefully, avoiding words, such as “bet,” that appear in NCAA bylaw 10.3. “There is no betting taking place. Basically what it is, is it's an auction,” he told investigators.

The Washington State Assistant Attorney General, Karen Nyrop, had trouble with the word "bet" as well, suggesting that an auction was not a gambling pool. According to Bob Sulkin, Neuheisel's lawyer, Nyrop told Rick that what he "should say (to the press) -- which is true -- is that what he was involved in was an auction; it was not gambling."

Clearly, Neuheisel was not as forthcoming in the morning session as he should have been. He should have been completely truthful, and he was not.

However, a careful parsing of Neuheisel's answers to investigators indicate that he didn't tell any boldface lies to them in the morning session, when he supposedly lied repeatedly. He misled the investigators, but he didn't lie to them, as shown by a literal interpretation of the answers Neuheisel gave to investigators.

Only after Neuheisel had consulted a lawyer did he tell the complete truth -- was completely forthcoming -- and that was later in the afternoon on June 4.

The responses in column three, Table 1, most likely are the words Neuheisel would use when parsing his answers given to the investigators.

Table 1. The results of our lie-detector test (text from The Seattle Times *)

NCAA's question * Neuheisel's Answer * Truth or a lie?

“Okay, and at no time did you ever place a bid on any team?”

 

“I never placed a bet on any team.”

True, he never placed a bet on any team. "Bet" is the keyword. He participated in the auction.

"And that last year you placed a bet University of Maryland. You paid $7,000 for the University of Maryland and you have won the pool and you won $25,000."

 

"That is incorrect."

True. The amount of money is incorrect; Neuheisel did not place a bet.

“Okay. Okay and do you believe that anything that you did either last year or this year at this auction pool was in violation of NCAA rules?”

 

"No, because I did not place a bet."

True; Neuheisel did not place a bet, so he didn't violate NCAA Bylaw 10.3

"Coach could you explain if there was some misunderstanding, something that, if there was any, anything that would explain your presence in these amounts."

"Yeah, I can explain exactly why that would be misinterpreted because I am sitting there with friends and my friends are participating in the pool. There is no betting taking place. Basically what it is, is it's an auction."

True. He was sitting there with friends, who were participating in the auction. Neuheisel's answer is misleading but not a lie.

"Okay."

 

 

"I did not go there to gamble."

True. According to Webster's dictionary, the word gamble means "to bet on an uncertain outcome." Neuheisel participated in an auction but did not bet.
 

"Okay. Is the $7,000 a correct number as far as what they would have to pool their money to pay."

 

"I don't recall."

Where have we heard that phrase before?

"Coach, were you, were you concerned at all, did you have second thoughts about going."

 

"Uh, I won't go again [laughter] if that's the question. I can guarantee it. No, I didn't have any concerns at all because I know that we can't gamble and I know I can't place a bet or anything like that, but I wasn't, I was just there watching."

First of all Neuheisel did not directly lie to the investigator's question, when he said "Uh, I won't go again if that's the question." He responded truthfully. Secondly, he wasn't placing any bets, which is the keyword. His friends participated in the auction (bid on a team) and he was just there watching. That’s true. What he left out was that he had money invested also and was a silent bidder. Therefore, I gave him the benefit of the doubt and didn’t call it a lie. It’s a close call. We may need an instant replay to figure it all out.

"Have you ever participated in a March Madness pool?"

 

"Yes."

True. He participated in small-betting pools at Washington, UCLA, and Colorado.

"Have you ever participated in March Madness pool at Washington?"

 

"I don't recall. Uh, I think there may have been one my first year there."

True, there was one in 1999.

"I have a couple of follow-up questions. I know you indicated that you (not) were involved at all in the group that owned Maryland. Did you contribute money, not necessarily for your own purpose, but did you let a friend borrow money to help purchase Maryland. Did you contribute any of your own funds?"

 

"I don't think so."

True, he loaned no money to his friends.

"Did they split any winnings with you?"

"No."

True. Literally, his friends didn't split their winnings with Neuheisel; each of them kept their own portion of the pot, splitting the pot among themselves.

Neuheisel has repeatedly contended he was confused by the line of questioning, and said he thought he was being accused of "gamboling" with organized gamblers.

For example, the NCAA investigators asked Neuheisel whether he had an internet gambling account or whether had had an internet gambling account under somebody else’s name. He was asked whether the house keeps a percentage of the money wagered, and he told them “there is no house.” "Have you ever wired money by (sic) Western Union because that was an internet gambling account," one questioner asked.

Neuheisel's lawyer, Bob Sulkin, said Neuheisel's responses would seem much different if the original context, which implied involvement with illegal, organized gambling, were available.

Richard Linde (a.k.a., Malamute) can be reached at malamute@4malamute.com

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