Gonzaga University athletic director Dan Fitzgerald has been placed on administrative leave and asked not to return to campus while university officials conduct an investigation into possible NCAA rules violations.
The investigation, according to university officials, centers on Fitzgerald’s management of funds that bypassed the university’s control and accounting procedures.
Fitzgerald, reached at his home Wednesday night, refused to comment on the developments other than to suggest any problems the school might uncover will be tied to accounting procedures and not benefits involving athletes.
“Nothing ever was involved with an athlete, nor will anything ever lead back to one,” he said. “We may have some procedural problems, but we have nothing else.”
A university press release said Fitzgerald, in his capacity as athletic director, might have jeopardized compliance with NCAA-mandated institutional control, budgeting, financial reporting and auditing processes.
The school said there is no evidence any funds were used for purposes prohibited by the NCAA. It also said there is no evidence the basketball program, which Fitzgerald headed for 15 seasons, or any other team sport was implicated.
Acting university president Harry H. Sladich said Fitzgerald will be paid during the investigation. “But I’ve asked him not to (come back on campus), just for his protection and ours,” Sladich said, “and to make sure the integrity of the investigation is maintained.”
Sladich said the investigation will be headed by Leo Driscoll, Gonzaga’s corporation counsel, and could take several months to complete. He added the NCAA has been notified of the probe and will be informed of all findings.
Sladich announced the decision to place Fitzgerald on paid leave to athletic department staff members Wednesday morning and advised them not to discuss the matter publicly.
Dan Monson, who took over the men’s basketball program when Fitzgerald resigned last March, would not comment other than to say he spent the day calling his players to inform them that the problems are not connected with his program.
“They (university officials) have assured me of that,” Monson said.
Fitzgerald, who posted a 254-169 record as GU’s men’s basketball coach, apologized for not being able to discuss the issue.
“I’m not a stonewall kind of guy, but I just can’t say anything,” he said. “I just hope and pray everything works out.”
Sladich said Fitzgerald’s duties as athletic director will be assumed in his absence by assistant athletic director Mike Roth.
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