Basketball Coach Don Haskins of Texas El Paso said he wants proof of allegations that his coaches and players have violated NCAA rules.
Haskins said at a news conference in El Paso that a story in last Saturday’s editions of The Times by Danny Robbins, quoting former UTEP recruit John Staggers, was inaccurate. Haskins also said he did not believe it.
“He needs to prove this, is what he needs to do. And then I guess if he can’t prove it, he’ll say John Staggers told him,” Haskins said.
Bill Dwyre, sports editor of The Times, said: “It’s a predictable reaction of a coach who has been rightly or wrongly accused of something. The ‘kill the messenger’ theory is the most predictable route that coaches and sports figures seem to take.”
Staggers said in a phone interview with the Associated Press that the story was accurate. In the story, Staggers said he told the NCAA he had received free lodging, housing and meals from UTEP assistant coaches while living in El Paso for six weeks in 1988.
Assistant coach G Ray Johnson, whom Staggers also implicated, said Staggers stayed in an apartment that belonged to basketball player Antonio Davis and former football player Rickie Evans.
“Rickie took care of the apartment and paid the bills, and John was supposed to pay his share,” Johnson said. Davis was out of town.
The NCAA has been investigating UTEP for the last six months, since published reports quoted former players as saying they had been lent cars or had been given favors by area families. The NCAA has not formally announced any allegations against UTEP.