UO probes players’ eligibility;Basketball Oregon Men;Michael Dunigan and several other former
Byline: Bob Clark The Register-Guard
The eligibility of “former members” of the Oregon men’s
basketballteam during the past two seasons is under investigation,
the school acknowledged Tuesday night.
The UO statement came in response to a query from The
Register-Guard, which has been told by sources that Michael Dunigan
signed with aprofessional team in Israel, ending his college career
after two seasons, because his eligibility was in question.
The short statement, credited to UO director of athletics Rob
Mullens, indicated that the school had obtained information related
to the eligibility of the unnamed players this summer and
“immediately contacted the (Pac-10) office … which in turn
forwarded the information onto the
NCAA for clarification.”
There was no indication how either the conference or NCAA had
A source indicated that the UO believes there is no issue with
theeligibility of the nine current scholarship players.
According to sources, the investigation by UO officials came
aboutbecause of allegations that Dunigan’s eligibility had been
compromised by extra benefits provided to him, in violation of NCAA
rules. Multiple sources with contacts in the UO basketball program
were uncertain about the nature of the alleged benefits or who
However, all agreed that Oregon was asking questions about the
allegations before Dunigan took the unexpected route of signing
with theHapoel Migdal team in Jerusalem.
Dunigan attended summer session classes at the university, and
worked out with the Ducks in August in preparation for a foreign
tour toItaly. One source indicated that Oregon’s decision to
postpone the trip for exhibition games last month, publicly
attributed to injuries and a short roster, was at least partially
prompted by concerns aboutDunigan’s eligibility, with Dunigan being
told he might not be allowed to make the trip unless there was a
resolution of the eligibility issues.
According to its news release, Oregon contacted the Pac-10 about
the eligibility issues on Aug. 2 “upon obtaining information
relating to the student-athletes.” The Ducks started practice for
the Italy trip on Aug. 12, but announced Aug. 20 that they wouldn’t
make the trip.
Asked if Dunigan’s eligibility was in question this summer, UO
men’s basketball coach Dana Altman said Tuesday, “I won’t comment
on that at this time.”
Dunigan and his mother have not responded to messages left for
them since the initial reports that he was turning pro. A phone
call to Pearl Dunigan, outlining the nature of this story, was not
The UO’s statement did not name players or indicate how many
mightbe involved but made it clear there is a more wide-spread
issue thansimply Dunigan.
There are nine players who could be described as “former”
members of the past two teams, including three who used up their
eligibility and six others who transferred to other schools,
including four sincethe past season ended.
In declining to provide more information, the UO cited the
Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, which prohibits schools
that receive federal funding from releasing information contained
in student records without the consent of the student.
Although the school says the probe involves former players,
there could still be liability for the Ducks if it was found that
NCAA violations occurred while they were on the team.
The future eligibility of Ducks who transferred could also be in
Tai Streets, who ran the AAU program in Chicago that Dunigan
played for before college, said he hadn’t recently spoken with
Dunigan andwas unaware of any eligibility issues.
“Somebody just told me a couple of weeks ago that Michael was
talking about going overseas,” Streets said. “I don’t know what’s
going on with Michael Dunigan. I don’t know anything about that
As one of the top-rated big men in the nation as a senior at
Farragut Academy in Chicago, Dunigan’s decision to commit to the
Ducks, along with friend and teammate Matt Humphrey, was considered
a major recruiting victory. The 6-foot-10 Dunigan was a McDonald’s
all-American, sought by some of the major programs in the country,
and was selected by Gatorade as the player of the year in Illinois
after averaging 20 points, 12 rebounds and five blocks per game as
Oregon has had a fairly heavy exodus of players in the past two
years. On the 2008-09 team, Ben Voogd left during the season and
Kamyron Brown after the season. Following this past season, when
the UO fired Ernie Kent and settled on Altman after an extended
search, four more players were lost when Humphrey, Drew Wiley, Josh
Crittle and Jamil Wilson left for other college programs. Also
during the past two years, Churchill Odia, Frantz Dorsainvil and
Tajuan Porter exhausted their eligibility.
Oregon has only nine players on scholarship, four under the NCAA
limit for a men’s basketball team.
Only two players on the roster will be taller than 6-6 for
Altman’s first season as coach.
Salary figures for Dunigan in Israel were not available, but an
American high school player of similar size to Dunigan signed a
deal that paid an annual compensation of $140,000.
Oregon has thus far not acknowledged Dunigan’s departure. He was
still listed on the team’s official roster Tuesday evening, though
theIsraeli team announced his signing on its website and Hapoel
Migdal lists Dunigan on its roster.
The initial report by a newspaper in Tel Aviv two weeks ago that
Dunigan was about to sign with an Israeli team was the first
indication that Dunigan might leave Oregon before his junior
Register-Guard columnist George Schroeder contributed to this