Feb. 16, 2005
SportsLine.com wire reports

KENT, Wash. -- Former Washington football coach Rick Neuheisel testified Wednesday that he did not believe he violated NCAA rules by putting $6,400 on the men's college basketball tournaments of 2002 and 2003 because he did not consider it betting.

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He also acknowledged during cross-examination by a university lawyer that when he put up the money, he wasn't aware of school compliance officer Dana Richardson's erroneous e-mail authorizing NCAA tournament pools.

Neuheisel, dismissed as Washington's coach in June 2003, is suing the school and the NCAA, alleging breach of contract and claiming the NCAA improperly influenced school officials to fire him. Neuheisel was hired last month by the NFL's Baltimore Ravens as their quarterbacks coach.

The 2002 and 2003 pools Neuheisel put money into were auction-style pools conducted at high-rise office buildings in Bellevue and Seattle. People spent thousands of dollars to "own" a team and follow it through to the championship.

"You were aware from your experience at NCAA Division I schools ... that it was against the rule to place a bet on intercollegiate athletics?" Washington lawyer Lou Peterson asked Neuheisel.

"Yes, I did know that," Neuheisel responded.

Peterson then challenged Neuheisel's statement that the pools involved bids, not bets, asking the coach if he had placed the money at risk.

"I guess in those terms, it was," Neuheisel said, "but I did not think of it that way at the time."

"Did you understand you may never see that money again?" Peterson asked.

"Yes, and it didn't concern me. ... I didn't think of it as a bet. It was a friendly pool," Neuheisel said.

He also said he stopped participating in a lower-stakes interdepartmental pool at Washington after his first season, when the NCAA cracked down on such activity.

On Tuesday, his third full day on the stand in King County Superior Court, Neuheisel said he didn't believe the pools were illegal because no money was being retained by someone running the auction.

Peterson asked Neuheisel whether he "knew it was possible to wager and win a lot of money?"

"I knew you could do well," answered Neuheisel, who won $4,799 on his $3,610 investment in 2002, and $7,324 on $2,790 in 2003.

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