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FBI investigating favors to DePaul team, report says

CHICAGO -- The FBI is investigating favors that First Chicago Corp. may have done for members of the DePaul University basketball program in violation of federal banking laws, a report said Friday.

A source close to the investigation told the Chicago Sun-Times the banking company has been accused of giving free apartments to players and free moving services to Jim Molinari, a former assistant coach who is now head basketball coach at Bradley University in Peoria.

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Molinari told the newspaper he has been questioned by FBI agents about favors arranged by Jeffrey Tassani. Tassani was a First Chicago executive who was the bank's liaison with DePaul and arranged summer jobs for DePaul players under a program approved by the National Collegiate Athletic Association.

He arranged to move Molinari's furniture in a First Chicago truck from one house to another in Wheaton in the late 1980s. Molinari says he did not pay for the move.

'He told me that they had trucks in the area and they'd help at the end of the day. I didn't think much about it,' Molinari told the newspaper.

DePaul athletic director Bill Bradshaw said moving Molinari's furniture would not violate NCAA rules.

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The FBI also is investigating whether players were allowed to use apartments and condominiums owned by the bank without charge.

The favors may violate NCAA rules as well as banking laws. The NCAA prohibits boosters from giving benefits to athletes that are not generally available to the student body.

DePaul officials, who said they were unaware of any players using the apartments or condominiums, has asked one of its law school professors to review the basketball program's relationship with First Chicago.

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