Kent defends program;Sports;The former coach, who says he hasn’t been contacted about probe, claims

Byline: Bob Clark The Register-Guard

Ernie Kent and two of his assistants during the final two

seasons of his tenure as the Oregon men’s

basketball coach said Wednesday they

haven’t been contacted as part of the probe into the eligibility

ofplayers on Kent’s final two teams.

Kent, fired after last season, also offered a strong defense of

his program, saying it was “above reproach” in its standards

related toacademics and NCAA rules.

“I was at Oregon for 13 years,” Kent said. “I think my track

record speaks for itself.”

There has been no indication of any wrongdoing by coaches on the

previous or current staff, according to sources who spoke with The

Register-Guard.

In acknowledging through a release to the media that there was a

probe into the eligibility of players on the past two teams, Oregon

limited itself to stating there was a question about the

eligibility of”former players” and it had asked for Pac-10

assistance, “which in turn forwarded the information onto the NCAA

for clarification.”

“I don’t know what they could be talking about,” said Yasir

Rosemond, a Kent assistant now in the same position at Seattle

University. “I guess they’ll investigate and we’ll see what

happens.”

Asked if he had been contacted by Oregon, the Pac-10 or NCAA for

information on the matter, Rosemond said “nobody has talked to

me.”

Mark Hudson, dismissed by Kent when the head coach reorganized

hisstaff after the 2008-09 season, also said he’s had no contact

with anyone about the probe, and declined comment otherwise beyond

affirming he was unaware of any possible violations.

Mike Dunlap, the assistant hired for Kent’s final season after

Hudson was let go, didn’t respond to messages left for him.

He now works at St. John’s University in New York.

Kenny Payne, the other Kent assistant, is now at the University

ofKentucky, where a spokesman for the school responded to a

reporter’sattempt to contact Payne by citing the school policy that

“members of the basketball staff are not available for

interviews.”

Oregon has not identified any of the players who could be in

question, but a source told The Register-Guard that none of the

remaining nine scholarship players on the Ducks’ roster are under

investigation.

While Oregon also hasn’t given any indication of why the

eligibility of the “former players” is under review, sources

indicated to The Register-Guard that Oregon’s probe started with

questions for MichaelDunigan about possible extra benefits he had

received, which would be an NCAA violation and likely make him

ineligible.

That, say the sources, is what prompted Dunigan to leave Oregon

and sign a contract with a professional team in Israel earlier this

month.

Rosemond said making that connection was tenuous reasoning,

however.

“I think Mike just decided to go overseas,” Rosemond said.

“Lots of guys go overseas to play.”