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Wharton promises LSU cooperation in NCAA probe

By JOAN I. DUFFY

BATON ROUGE, La. -- Louisiana State University Chancellor James Wharton Friday reiterated his pledge to cooperate with a two-year-old NCAA investigation that expanded into a federal grand jury probe when bugging devices were found in the athletic director's office.

Wharton also promised that a faculty committee would review any rule violations the NCAA may uncover and would recommend disciplinary action.

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'The university's response (to any violations) will be determined by the findings of this faculty committee,' Wharton said.

Wharton, who pledged cooperation with the NCAA investigation when it started, said Friday he was making the promise again 'in light of recent developments.'

A federal grand jury has launched an investigation of its own into electronic eavesdropping devices and other bugging equipment Athletic Director Bob Brodhead had installed in his office on Oct. 26.

Brodhead, who has denied any wrongdoing, said he wanted to tape telephone calls and overhear conversations in his office to track down the source of news leaks.

But Sports Illustrated reported in this week's issue that Brodhead had the bugs installed -- by an FBI informant -- the day before NCAA investigator Doug Johnson was scheduled to use Brodhead's office to conduct interviews with LSU athletes.

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'In view of recent developments, the university must re-emphasize its position so that there can be no misunderstanding concerning its intention to cooperate fully with the NCAA,' Wharton said.

The chancellor said he sent letters Friday to NCAA Executive Director Walter Byers and Enforcement Director David Berst reaffirming LSU's pledge to adhere to association rules and to cooperate with the investigation.

'Well-founded allegations will be acknowledged and the university will take whatever action is necessary to prevent their recurrence,' Wharton said. 'If the allegations are not well-founded, the university will exercise all of its rights of due process to disprove them.'

Basketball coach Dale Brown, who spent two hours with the grand jury Thursday, denied vehemently that the bugs were installed in Brodhead's office to protect the school from additional NCAA probes stemming from the bizarre recruitment and later disappearance of 7-foot-1 center Alfredo 'Tito' Horford.

So far, the federal grand jury has heard from Wharton, Brodhead, Brown, Assistant Athletic Director Joe Yates and a lawyer representing basketball players in the NCAA probe and another representing the LSU Board of Supervisors.

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