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TANGLED WEB FELLED HARRICK : REPORT REVEALS PATTERN OF DECEIT.

Byline: Jon Wilner Daily News Staff Writer

Former UCLA basketball coach Jim Harrick lied eight times in three interviews with athletic director Peter Dalis and coerced first-year assistant Michael Holton into lying during an investigation into a recruiting dinner, according to a five-page report released Wednesday by UCLA.

UCLA released the report because media applied for it through the Freedom of Information Act.

The one-week investigation began Oct. 16 - one day after Harrick submitted a reimbursement request for a $1,085 dinner for 13 at Monty's restaurant in Westwood.

Considering the bill excessive, UCLA officials went to Monty's to retrieve an itemized copy of the bill. They interviewed the waiter who served Harrick's party and, based partly on that interview, determined Harrick had lied about who attended the meal.

On Nov. 6, the day he was fired, Harrick was asked why he lied.

``That's not important,'' he said.

Attempts to reach Harrick on Wednesday were unsuccessful.

UCLA determined Harrick violated NCAA rules by paying for dinner for Bruins players Charles O'Bannon and Cameron Dollar, who were not part of the official party and not entitled to a free meal.

Harrick did not mention Dollar or O'Bannon on the reimbursement request. Instead, he listed his wife, Sally, and Holton's wife, LaShell, as attending.

UCLA has reported the violation to the NCAA and Pacific-10. A source said no sanctions are expected because UCLA took swift, corrective action.

The report said Holton lied because of loyalty to Harrick. He then changed his mind and told Dalis the truth.

``I don't have a comment on what happened,'' Holton said Wednesday.

Those at the dinner included Harrick, Holton, assistant coaches Steve Lavin and Jim Saia; Lavin's girlfriend, Treena Camacho; recruits Earl Watson and Jason and Jarron Collins; plus current UCLA players Jelani McCoy, Kris Johnson, Bob Myers, O'Bannon and Dollar.

Steve Salm, UCLA associate athletic director for business, received Harrick's reimbursement request on Oct. 15 - a week after reports of the sale of Harrick's Chevy Blazer to the sister of a recruit.

On Oct. 16, Dalis and Morrison interviewed Harrick. He said O'Bannon and Dollar were not part of the group and paid for their own meals. He also said his wife and LaShell Holton arrived at approximately 8 p.m., as people were leaving.

On Oct. 17, Morrison and compliance director Rich Herczog interviewed the five players. O'Bannon and Dollar had slightly conflicting stories regarding who paid and how much they paid.

Upon further questioning, Dollar and O'Bannon ``admitted they let their meals go on the master bill,'' the report said.

On Oct. 18, Dalis and Morrison interviewed the three assistants to determine who attended the dinner and who ordered what.

Holton said his wife and Sally Harrick arrived after the rest of the party had left and that his wife ate lobster.

After practice, Dalis and Morrison went back to Harrick.

``Dalis stressed the need to tell the truth,'' the report said. ``When told that (Dollar and O'Bannon) did not pay for their meals, Harrick admitted he hadn't been careful enough. He just `thought' they paid, since they were not part of the official recruiting party.''

He also said both wives attended but did not eat.

``When confronted with Holton's different version regarding the wives' meal, Harrick said Holton was mistaken,'' the report said.

``Harrick reiterated that neither wife had eaten at Monty's. Dalis asked Harrick why Holton had lied. Harrick had no explanation.''

Harrick did not say why he listed the wives on his reimbursement request.

On the morning of Oct. 19, Holton left a message on Dalis' home answering machine. On Oct. 21, Holton told Dalis he had lied during the initial interview and that his Oct. 19 call had been to correct himself.

He told Dalis that his wife did not attend the dinner and that he ``felt conflicted between telling the truth and being loyal to Harrick,'' the report said.

The report continued: ``This conflict arose because:

``When he was hired, Harrick told Holton that Holton's highest priority was loyalty to him (Harrick).

``On Oct. 12 at the Rose Bowl . . . Harrick told Holton, `I put LaShell on the reimbursement request for the Monty's dinner.'

``On Oct. 18, in the morning before Holton's interview with Dalis and Morrison, Holton asked Harrick, `Were the wives there?' Harrick replied, `Yes, they were there.' ''

Two days after Holton told the truth, Dalis and Morrison confronted Harrick again.

``As part of this process, Dalis asked Harrick if the wives had been at Monty's on Oct. 11,'' the report said. ``Dalis was very specific and he asked three times if both wives were there. All three times Harrick said, `Yes.'

``After the third `Yes' answer, Dalis told Harrick that LaShell Holton had not gone to Monty's. Dalis implored Harrick to tell the truth.

``Confronted with this set of facts, Harrick finally admitted that he had lied.''

TRUE LIES

Highlights of UCLA's report on the Harrick investigation:

Harrick falsified a dinner reimbursement request, listing his wife, Sally, and assistant Michael Holton's wife, LaShell, as attending the meal when neither did.

Harrick lied to athletic director Peter Dalis five times during initial fact-finding interviews.

Harrick coerced Holton into lying to Dalis - thus jeopardizing Holton's job.

Harrick lied to Dalis three consecutive times after Dalis had determined the facts.

CAPTION(S):

Photo, Box

Photo: No Caption (Jim Harrick)

Box: TRUE LIES (see text)
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Copyright 1996, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Nov 14, 1996
Words:895
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