Gamble. Lie about it, just not for too long.
That was the message sent by the NCAA on Wednesday in a strange non-ruling regarding former Washington coach Rick Neuheisel. The Slick One got slicker in that he wriggled out of possible long-term unemployment. The NCAA found that, yes, Neuheisel lied to NCAA investigators about wagering in a high-stakes NCAA Tournament basketball pool. He lied twice, in fact. Bald-faced and knowingly.
|The NCAA gives Rick Neuheisel a lift -- no sanctions, and his suit vs. Washington is stronger. (Getty Images)|
Some people just live right.
Or maybe it was a case of Neuheisel having the better lawyer -- himself. The graduate of the Southern California law school was fired last year after lying to both NCAA investigators about the betting pool and the school itself about interviewing with the San Francisoo 49ers. He reacted as any contrite, disgraced leader of men would: He sued both the NCAA and Washington.
Neuheisel survived the release of Washington's sanctions Wednesday with his lawsuit still in place against the NCAA, his case actually strengthened in the lawsuit against his old employer. If the NCAA found there was no ethical conduct, he can argue, how could the school fire him?
Neuheisel's first piece of evidence might be this emphatic statement from NCAA Infractions Committee chairman Tom Yeager: "The actions of the former head coach did not violate NCAA ethical conduct legislation."
This is getting all very Clintonian. In essence, the NCAA is defining what a "lie" is. If it is admitted to in the same interview, it's not really a lie.
The dreaded NCAA "show cause" penalty could have essentially banned Neuheisel from coaching for as long as his hair remains blonde. But the enforcement staff trotted out a little known "general policy" that protects truth benders such as Neuheisel if they come clean "the same day they provided the false information."
What some people might call morally bankrupt, Neuheisel calls great timing.
The purpose of Wednesday's NCAA news release was to announce that Neuheisel's former school, Washington, got two extra years of probation for recruiting violations. It seems a booster with a 65-foot yacht was squiring around recruits.
But Yeager cut right to the chase which was the future of Neuheisel.
"(The decision) came about after very long and very detailed discussions right up until the release of this report," Yeager said. "This case has a very, very unique set of circumstances ... We're not investigators. That was their call."
The call was to release Neuheisel back on the streets where he is free to pursue legal action against his accusers while pursuing his next job.
Fair? No, just Slick.