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Wednesday, December 13, 2000
Bayno fired; UNLV hit with probation

LAS VEGAS -- Bill Bayno came to UNLV pledging to win games and run a clean program. He didn't win enough, and when the NCAA placed its latest sanctions on the Runnin' Rebels, Bayno was the first one to go.

Tuesday, Dec. 12
Anytime there are infractions found, ultimately the man at the top is going to have to take some of the responsibility. Unfortunately, that's Bill Bayno in this instance. The one question is how much of what was going on was known to Bayno and his staff. And how much was known to the athletic department and administration.

There are inherent problems that go with being the head coach at UNLV given their past history with NCAA scrutiny. Being the coach there requires a heightened sense of awareness. Coaches everywhere are held to a high standard in this regard, but nowhere more than at UNLV.

This, of course, begs the question, how much responsibility does a coach bear for what goes on around his program?

Neither Bill Bayno, nor any other coach in America has complete control over the boosters that surround the program. Did the university have information that Bayno knew or should have known something was going on? And if they did, why did they wait until the NCAA told them so to fire him?

Ultimately it's the university's decision who it wants leading its program. But it is curious timing that the dismissal only took place after the sanctions came out. It would be interesting to know when the administration knew the facts and circumstances surrounding the case.

As far as the future of the program, I think UNLV is still a good job. It's not the same job as Jerry Tarkanian left, but they'll have an opportunity to hire a good coach. Whoever it is needs to be sure that there will be the proper support from the administration and they won't be handcuffed from the very beginning.

Only hours after the NCAA put UNLV's basketball team on four years' probation, Bayno was fired as coach of a program that has floundered since Jerry Tarkanian led it to a national championship in 1990 and an undefeated regular season the next year.

School officials insisted the team's poor start this season had nothing to do with the firing, saying Bayno was let go instead because he had not kept the program clean.

"The head coach is responsible for the integrity of the basketball program," UNLV president Carol Harter said.

Bayno was fired late Monday night and replaced with assistant Max Good after the NCAA notified the university that it would face harsher sanctions than it expected for violations stemming from the recruitment of Lamar Odom in 1996 and 1997.

Among the allegations was that a local dentist and UNLV booster gave Odom $5,600 in monthly payments while he was awaiting admission to UNLV. Odom enrolled for a summer school class, but UNLV then refused to admit him and he never played for the Rebels.

"The institution felt it was my fault," Bayno said. "But I wasn't charged with anything. The NCAA cleared me of wrongdoing."

In addition to the probation, UNLV was banned from postseason play for a year and had two scholarships taken away for two years. But the school, which was put on probation in 1993, escaped the so-called "death penalty" that could have been applied under NCAA bylaws.

"We don't have to put a team on the shelf. It's a drastic remedy," said Jack Friedenthal, chairman of the NCAA Committee on Infractions. "It was a while back and it occurred at a different time and level."

Odom's recruitment was similar to that of Lloyd Daniels in the 1980s that attracted the attention of the NCAA and got UNLV its latest probation in 1993. Daniels never played for UNLV either, and the controversy over his recruitment helped lead to Tarkanian's forced resignation in 1993.

UNLV officials had argued that the payments to Odom were made after the university said he could not play, but the NCAA found otherwise. The severity of the sanctions finally levied, however, seemed to stun school officials, who said they might appeal the postseason ban.

"We're not trying to whine about the penalty," Harter said. "We accept most of the penalties. But we're under a level of scrutiny that I dare say is extrodinarily difficult for an institute to survive."

The penalties came despite UNLV's attempt to minimize its problems by imposing its own sanctions earlier this year.

The governing body also ruled that UNLV cannot participate in the preseason NIT tournament as planned next season and ordered it to disassociate itself from the dentist, David Chapman, and attorney and booster Steve Stein.

The NCAA said it was concerned the violations were "very similar" to those in a 1993 infractions case involving UNLV, and expressed concern that university officials did not appear to accept responsibility for some of the violations.

"We want people to straighten up and fly right," Friedenthal said.

Bayno, in his sixth season at UNLV, was under growing pressure from fans and boosters for fielding teams that often were loaded with talent but performed inconsistently.

Under Bayno, UNLV was 94-64 in five-plus seasons but never got past the first game of the two NCAA postseason tournaments it made. The Rebels, who face No. 17 Cincinnati on Saturday, are 3-4 on the season after losing badly to rival Nevada last Saturday.

"It's the nature of the business," the 38-year-old Bayno said of his firing.

Athletic director Charles Cavaganaro said Bayno would be offered another job in the athletic department for the final two years of his contract. Bayno made $136,500 a year in base salary, and about $600,000 when other income was added.

Bayno had a clause in his contract, though, that allowed the university to fire him if he had knowledge of NCAA violations.

"A position will be offered," Cavagnaro said. "But no one has a gun to his head."

In its report, the Committee on Infractions said the university "should have had a heightened sense of vigilance" about the basketball program.

The payments were made while Odom was in Las Vegas in the summer of 1997 and was enrolled in a summer class while awaiting his formal admission to UNLV. They continued, the NCAA said, after the university announced it would not admit Odom in the wake of publicity over his recruiting status.

According to the report, Chapman gave Odom $400 to $800 two or three times a week, paying him a total of about $4,000 before the university decided not to allow him to enroll. He later gave him other money, the NCAA said.

Friedenthal said the university should have been aware of the relationship because Chapman regularly visited the campus to play in pickup basketball games with Odom and was a well-known booster.

"It's the kind of thing you just must watch for," he said.

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 ESPN's Jay Bilas and Andy Katz analyze the firing of UNLV coach Bill Bayno.
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 President Carol Harter announces UNLV's decision to terminate basketball coach Bill Bayno.
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RealAudio: 14.4 | 28.8 | 56.6's Andy Katz looks at what lies ahead for the UNLV basketball program.
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RealAudio: 14.4 | 28.8 | 56.6's Andy Katz looks at the UNLV probation ruling and the difficulties running a clean program in Las Vegas.
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