Tahlequah Daily Press

Sports

December 6, 2012

Expert: Swift firing of Tulsa AD correct move

TULSA — The swift dismissal of Tulsa's athletic director shortly after he was named in an Oklahoma City gambling investigation last month could be looked on favorably by the NCAA as the agency investigates the matter, a sports law expert said Wednesday.

Ross Parmley was fired Tuesday after being publicly linked to the federal investigation. University of Tulsa President Steadman Upham said in a letter to students and faculty of the private school that Parmley "admitted he had not been truthful" about his involvement in the probe when he told Upham in October 2011 that he was cooperating in an FBI investigation.

Parmley was named — but not charged — in a federal indictment released last month that details a large gambling operation tied to alleged Oklahoma bookie Teddy Mitchell, who is scheduled for trial in April. In a recently unsealed court document, Parmley was described by an FBI agent as an "admitted gambler with Mitchell."

Parmley, 39, was named athletic director in January but had been with the university for several years.

"It has become standard operating procedure for universities to follow what I call the four As: admit, apologize, act and assist," said Bob Jarvis, a law professor at Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., who teaches and has written about gambling law and sports law. "Admit you have a scandal, then you apologize, then you act to clean up the scandal and finally, you assist the NCAA as it investigates the scandal.

"If you come down heavily on yourself before the NCAA acts, then they will take that into account," he said. "Does that work? I don't know. It certainly can't hurt to do all those things because it shows contrition."

The university says it is cooperating with the NCAA, which according to its website prohibits athletic department employees from betting on amateur, collegiate or professional sports in which it conducts championships. An NCAA investigator was believed to have arrived in Tulsa this week, although an NCAA spokeswoman said she couldn't comment on potential investigations.

Messages left by The Associated Press with two spokeswomen for the school were unreturned Wednesday, as were requests for comment left at Parmley's home and with two members of his legal team.

After Parmley was placed on leave last week, his attorney said Parmley was cooperating with investigators and that he wasn't a target of the FBI.

In his letter to the university, Upham said he had specifically asked Parmley during their discussion last year if he ever gambled on college or professional sports.

"He told me that friendly wagers during personal golf games constituted the extent of his betting activities," Upham wrote. "I had no reason to believe there had been any acts of impropriety or non-compliance."

But last Tuesday, Parmley "admitted he had not been truthful in our 2011 conversation," Upham said. "He was immediately put on administrative leave and, at my direction, TU notified the NCAA. We subsequently launched our own internal investigation."

Jarvis, who has no involvement in the case, said how the NCAA reacts will largely depend on what administrators knew and when they knew it regarding Parmley's involvement in the gambling investigation.

"If it's really the case as the president's letter is trying to make it that Parmley was a rogue actor and duped everybody, there's only so much a university can do," Jarvis said. "On the other hand, if it turns out they should have known, then the NCAA will come down very hard on them."

The recently unsealed FBI affidavit accuses Mitchell of running an illegal gambling operation and alleges that Parmley was an "admitted gambler" who wrote a $1,782 check to Mitchell in late 2009.

Parmley is not charged in the case.

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