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Story on possible NCAA violation

Written by Colin Dunlap on .

A former student manager for the Duquesne men's basketball program said he was told by coach Ron Everhart to send 15 pairs of basketball shoes to a junior-college basketball coach in Florida -- a violation of NCAA rules and one the university is investigating.

The manager, a senior at Duquesne who spoke to the Post-Gazette on the condition of anonymity, had been a manager the past three seasons before voluntarily leaving the program Tuesday. He said Everhart instructed him to send the shoes to a Coral Springs, Fla., address that is listed as the home of Bob Starkman, the men's basketball coach at Broward Community College.

Duquesne University athletic director Greg Amodio issued a statement Friday night:

"In an attempt to support our troops in Afghanistan through a program conducted by Bob Starkmann [sic], head basketball coach at Broward CC, the Duquesne University men's basketball staff inadvertently violated an NCAA bylaw that prevents Division I institutions from sending athletic apparel/equipment directly to a junior-college coaching staff. Therefore, the Duquesne University athletic department has submitted a letter to the NCAA outlining the circumstances associated with this secondary violation."

Starkman has a Facebook page titled "Broward College Men's Basketball Adopts Company in Afghanistan" which outlines a program he has to send goods to troops overseas. Documentation provided by the student manager, however, casts some doubt on the reason for sending the equipment.

Everhart sent the manager a text message Aug. 23, which the manager shared with the Post-Gazette, saying that he should ship two size-15 shoes, four size-14, two size-13, three size-12, two size-11 and two size-10 and also some coaches shirts to the Florida address. The text, which the manager said was sent from Starkman to Everhart and then forwarded to him, also requests, "size 10 shoes and some coaches shirts xxl size 14 and coaches cargo shorts size 40 thks bob"

At that time, the manager said the shoes that Duquesne stockpiled in its inventory of about 75 they receive from adidas as part of their shoe deal could not fill the specific request Everhart made.

"So, I ordered a few more," the manager said. "I knew we couldn't get the coaches shirts, so I didn't send them, but we got the rest of the shoes. We waited about a month, they came in, and I loaded them in my car and sent them to Starkman."

The manager sent the items Sept. 23 from a UPS Store in Ross, according to receipts he provided. A problem arose about the shipping costs of the shoes that were sent priority mail at a cost of $358.34, which the manager said Everhart instructed him to pay out of his own pocket.

Everhart declined to answer several calls and text messages to his cell phone for this story.

About a week after the shoes were shipped, the manager -- who said he received about $4,000 per semester in aid toward his tuition as a manager and was told he would receive the aid for this semester -- said he gave Everhart the receipt and asked the coach to reimburse him for shipping costs.

Over the next month, the manager said he also communicated to director of basketball operations Jason Byrd and assistant coach Steve Hall that he needed to be reimbursed.

The manager saw associate athletic director for NCAA compliance Rick Christensen at a women's volleyball match Nov. 7 and approached him in an effort to recoup his money.

"I didn't know how much to tell Rick because I didn't want the basketball program to get in trouble; all I wanted was my money back," the manager said. "Rick asked me if I wanted to pursue this, and I really just wanted my money back."

At a meeting the next day in Christensen's office, the manager said he produced the UPS Store receipt for $358.34. One day later, the manager said he was summoned to a meeting with Christensen and Amodio.

"Rick tape-recorded the meeting this time, said they were investigating things officially and had me sign a paper," the manager said.

The manager said he was told that the basketball staff was still unaware he had met with officials within the athletic department, and he carried on with his duties as manager.

But, after the Dukes defeated Bluefield State Nov. 12, the manager said Christensen told him the basketball staff would be made aware of the situation Monday.

When the manager arrived for practice Monday and Tuesday, he said he received a tepid response from the coaching staff. He cleaned out his personal items Tuesday and met briefly Wednesday with Everhart.

Everhart gave the manager a personal check for the shipping cost. The manager kept a copy of the check. In a meeting with Christensen after receiving the check, he said he was advised it would be best to stay away from the program.

Christensen had no comment Friday. When contacted Thursday, Starkman said little.

"I don't know who you are, and I don't know what you mean, I'm not saying anything to you" he said. "I've known Ron Everhart for over 20 years. Anyway, those shoes were adidas, and we wear Nike anyway."

On Starkman's Facebook page, which has pictures claiming to be from Nov. 11, 2010, some players can be seen wearing adidas shoes.

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