High-school senior-to-be Josh Heytvelt of Clarkston High School is 6 feet 9 inches tall, making him a can't-miss prospect for universities in the Washington state area.
The NCAA determined last Thursday that Husky assistant basketball coach Cameron Dollar was guilty of trying to woo Heytvelt before he was eligible for recruitment, among other minor NCAA rulebook violations. As a result, the UW men's basketball program was placed on a two-year probation and lost one scholarship for the 2003-04 season.
Dollar first talked to Heytvelt after his sophomore year, driving 320 miles from Seattle to Heytvelt's hometown where his family was eating at a local restaurant.
Thomas Yeager, NCAA Committee on Infractions chair member, said in a press release that Dollar's infractions involved phone calls, recruiting contacts, player evaluations and attending a non-certified summer basketball event.
"He was cutting corners, as opposed to the noteworthy recruiting violations we've seen of late," said Yeager. "We commend the University for the actions they took and felt that its actions were serious."
Dollar admitted his mistakes to the University last fall. As a result, the University implemented self-imposed penalties for Dollar that included a one-month suspension, no off-campus recruiting visits, and a five-month pay cut totaling $13,334.
"I knew they (NCAA) were going to make a decision, and I think not banning us from the postseason was the right choice since what happened was minor," said sophomore forward Bobby Jones. "One scholarship loss can't hurt us too bad since we're a young team, but I know my teammates and coaches are ready to move on."
While the violations, which occurred during the summer of 2002, involved four prospective student athletes, it is rumored that Gonzaga coach Mark Few blew the whistle on coach Dollar for his premature recruitment of Heytvelt. Heytvelt made an oral commitment to play for the Bulldogs one year after Dollar's alleged recruiting efforts.
According the NCAA rulebook, college coaches are not allowed to recruit high-school underclassmen.
Yeager did not deny that informants dropped the dime.
"The main issue is you had an assistant coach who was violating recruiting rules," Yeager told collegesports.com. "That raised the ire of other basketball coaches out there on the recruiting trail, so they turned him in."
Husky sophomore forward Mike Jensen said this blow to the team is more detrimental to the Husky sports image overall than to their record, which was 10-17 last year.
"It will affect how people view our University. This all happened over a year ago, but [the media] is blowing it out of proportion, considering what is going on with Rick Neuheisel," said Jensen. "As long as we can still go to the tournament, everything is cool. We are going to continue to go out and try to win."
Dollar came to coach the Huskies in the spring of 2002 from Saint Louis University, following his former coach Lorenzo Romar. Dollar played for the 1995 NCAA champion UCLA Bruins, for whom Lorenzo Romar was an assistant.
During the 1998-99 season, Dollar was the nation's youngest head coach at the age 22, directing Southern California College to an 11-22 record.
Romar and Dollar were out of town and unavailable for comment.
Please read our Comment policy.