, July 2 (UPI) -- Rick Neuheisel may have been told Tuesday that he is no longer the football coach at the University of Washington, but that does not mean the game is over.
It is likely that, in light of the confusion and controversy created by the Neuheisel incident, the NCAA got the message and will clarify its guidelines regarding the involvement of athletic department employees in sports pools of any kind. However, any clarifications likely will not be enough to save his job, which is why he appealed his initial firing by Athletic Director Barbara Hedges.
Neuheisel got hounded by the media and pounded by the public for his admission that he participated in off-campus betting pools in the past two NCAA basketball tournaments. In those pools, he claims he invested $6,400 of his own money and won, depending upon who can be believed, about $20,000. NCAA bylaw 10.3 prohibits athletic department employees and student-athletes from gambling.
He did not endear himself to Hedges or anyone else for telling NCAA investigators initially that he was not involved in the pools, and also claimed he got an -email from a school official that said participating in off-campus pools was within NCAA rules.
This controversy stirred many an emotion, mainly because a number of honorable people think the rule is vague and feel that Neuheisel did nothing wrong.
He had a number of highly regarded brethren in his corner, including Joe Paterno of Penn State, Lou Holtz of South Carolina, Mike Bellotti of Oregon, and Jim Tressel, who coached Ohio State to a national championship last season. That seems to indicate that the NCAA needs to fine-tune this bylaw and be more specific in its wording.
"I personally do not believe Rick deserves to be fired," Bellotti said before the latest appeal was rejected. "When I receive a memo from a compliance officer at the University of Oregon, I accept the interpretation as written."
It appears nobody is absolutely certain about the rules.
Neuheisel himself said he would never risk his job for this.
"Never in a million years," he said. "I'm a lot of things, but I'm not crazy enough to risk my career and my integrity over a basketball auction. I didn't think of it as gambling."
Under school bylaws, there was a process by which Neuheisel could try to prevent his ouster. He now has exhausted all but one appeal, and said he intends to take the final step, an appeal to to Norm Arkans, Special Assistant for the President, who will return from vacation in mid-July.
The irony here is that the man who is overseeing the Washington football program in the interim, offensive coordinator Keith Gilbertson, has admitted he too has been involved in a similar pool, with each player putting up a paltry $3 a person into a pool that was run out of the school's football office.
That's where this situation needs to be cleared up. The NCAA has to be firm about whether any involvement in pools of this nature is out of bounds. Seems that, in this case, the amount of the stake made no difference. It appears everybody was guilty, but only Neuheisel is paying the highest of prices for what appears to be a double standard.
Also, it seems strange that NCAA President Myles Brand basically forced Washington's hand by saying he would "take personnel action" if he were the school's president, but did nothing during the recent Big East/ACC expansion mess.
The NCAA is often called hypocritical. No one understands why the organization does what it does, and why Neuseisel is viewed as a scapegoat. Unfortunately for him, this matter gives the NCAA a chance to change some opinions.