The Pacific 10 Conference has decided to use money generated by the University of Washington's televised football games last fall to pay defense attorneys fighting a lawsuit by Husky players.
Washington's share of TV money--about $939,000--was withheld for one year as part of Pac-10 penalties imposed on the Huskies for violations mostly stemming from the school's summer jobs program. Washington also was barred from postseason bowls for two years.
When the penalties were announced last summer, the conference indicated the TV revenues would be set aside but did not specify how the money would be used. Washington appeared in six telecasts last fall. Under a Pac-10 formula, member teams keep 59% of their appearance revenues, with the rest divided among the other nine schools.
Conference presidents, with Washington President William Gerberding abstaining, voted unanimously in June to use the money to defend the conference against a federal-court lawsuit filed by players, conference spokesman Jim Muldoon said.
University officials made it clear they believed the money would be better spent on scholarships or for gender-equity expenses such as travel costs for women's teams, said Rob Aronson, Washington's faculty representative to the conference.
The Pac-10 has hired Bogle & Gates, a prominent Seattle law firm, to defend it. The suit contends the conference penalties unfairly penalize athletes in the school's football program and are "anti-competitive, overboard and unreasonable."
A hearing is scheduled Nov. 7 on the players' bid to have the bowl ban lifted this season, the second year of that penalty.
Ron Neubauer, an attorney for the athletes, said he found it ironic the Pac-10 would use the appropriated TV revenues to fight a player lawsuit that challenges the TV penalty.
Muldoon said any leftover money would be put in an interest-bearing account, whose use would be decided later by the Pac-10 presidents.