SUNY requests Binghamton records be protected

The State University of New York chancellor has ordered that all records be protected from destruction in the investigation of the athletics program at Binghamton University.

Chancellor Nancy Zimpher issued the order this week as part of an investigation headed by former state Chief Judge Judith Kaye, who has been given wide latitude.

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SUNY Board of Trustees Chairman Carl Hayden said that because of Zimpher’s immediate action, the NCAA and the America East conference have agreed not to start their own investigations at this time.

Hayden said there would be no “artificial time constraints” on Kaye’s investigation, which is now focusing on developing a witness list.

“The investigation is going to proceed without there being any kind of restraints from us,” Hayden said, referring to the SUNY Board of Trustees. “It will go where the evidence takes it. It will deal with the integrity of the basketball program, but the charge is sufficiently broad to permit Judge Kaye and her colleagues to look into anything which by implication flows from the facts that are found here.”

The chain of events that triggered the probe began in February after a newspaper report raised questions about the character of players coach Kevin Broadus had recruited to the basketball program. Broadus is on a paid leave of absence from his $217,000 job.

“Going forward, the State University of New York stands for the highest degree of integrity in its collegiate athletic program,” Zimpher told trustees.

“We underscore that we refer to athletes as student athletes for a good reason,” she said. “They are in academic study doing academic work and providing great leadership opportunities and entertainment and intercollegiate athletics as well, but we must bring both together at the highest level and I just wanted to pledge my commitment to providing that leadership.”

Zimpher was hired earlier this year after serving as president of the University at Cincinnati. She gained national attention when she forced Cincinnati basketball coach Bob Huggins to resign in 2005, after the program had a history of low graduation rates, suspensions and arrests of Huggins’ players over the years. Huggins also had a drunk driving conviction in 2004.

Zimpher famously said then: “Character counts.”

On Tuesday, the SUNY Board’s Executive Committee unanimously supported the hiring of Monica Rimai as its new chief operating officer and senior vice chancellor. She had been the interim president at the University at Cincinnati since Zimpher left earlier this year.

Rimai, who holds a law degree, negotiated the forced departure of Huggins.