The NCAA notified the University of Montana on Jan. 30 that it is investigating the Grizzlies football team, though the particulars of the investigation are unknown.

Kevin McRae, the associate commissioner of higher education for the Montana University System, released the NCAA’s Letter of Inquiry to the Missoulian a little after 5 p.m. MDT on Wednesday.

The announcement came after the media asked for specific information about a possible NCAA investigation. UM already is the subject of investigations by the U.S. Departments of Education and Justice into its handling of sexual assault and harassment allegations.

On Wednesday, McRae said the NCAA had mandated that its investigation be kept confidential to protect the review’s integrity.

“Because the NCAA directed the university to treat the NCAA’s investigation as confidential, the university complied by making no public announcement about the investigation,” McRae wrote in a prepared statement.

Since January, in fact, the Missoulian had repeatedly asked UM officials if the school was under investigation by the NCAA. Until Wednesday, the question was not answered.

McRae noted that UM President Royce Engstrom was “instrumental in UM’s efforts … to reach an understanding with the NCAA that UM will make this information public at this time because of UM’s interest in openness and transparency.”

Reached by phone, Engstrom said he does not know the particulars of what the NCAA is investigating.

“Even if I wanted to tell you, I couldn’t, because the NCAA has not told me the intent of their investigation,” Engstrom said. “I can speculate, but I’m not going to do that.”

The Letter of Inquiry notes that under NCAA bylaws that the university “may request a meeting with the enforcement staff to discuss the inquiry in more detail.” Engstrom requested such a meeting.

“I did meet with them shortly after the letter was received,” he said. “But they would not tell me anything further than what was in the letter itself.”

The letter opens by saying its purpose “is to advise you that the NCAA has begun an investigation into the institution’s football program in accordance with the provisions of NCAA Bylaw 32.5 of the NCAA enforcement procedures.”

It continues, “It is the present intention of the enforcement staff to complete this investigation during the spring of 2012.”

The Letter of Inquiry mainly stayed on two points: “(1) the duty to develop full information and (2) the duty to protect the integrity of the investigation.”

The letter continues, “During the course of this inquiry the enforcement staff expects that the institution will coordinate in advance with the enforcement staff with respect to all case-related activities.”

Engstrom said he did not know when the process would be completed.

“I honestly don’t know how long it’s going to run,” he said. “I guess it would play out over a matter of months. But that’s speculation.”

The NCAA warned, though, that the investigation could broaden.

“At this time, the possible violations primarily involve the football program,” the letter said. “However, please note that new information often is developed during an investigation that leads to expanded inquiries. In the event such information is developed, you will be kept informed insofar as possible.”

The NCAA also said the university would receive a status report after six months.

******

The Missoulian left a message with one of the NCAA investigators Wednesday evening.

Engstrom would not say if the NCAA’s probe into UM’s football program had anything to do with his dismissal of coach Robin Pflugrad and athletic director Jim O’Day on March 29.

“I’m still not going to comment on those personnel matters,” he said.

Pflugrad and O’Day were relieved of their duties – with pay – in the midst of internal and external investigations into UM’s handling of numerous reported rapes and sexual assaults, some allegedly involving Griz football players. The firings came days after Pflugrad spoke in support of quarterback Jordan Johnson, who has been accused of rape by a UM student.

At the time, Engstrom released a statement saying only that UM “has determined not to renew the contracts” of both men.

Since the firings, UM has come under more scrutiny for how it has responded to complaints of sexual violence, including an investigation by the U.S. Department of Education into alleged sexual harassment and assaults by members of the football team.

Earlier in May, the U.S. Department of Justice announced it would investigate how 80 reported rapes were handled over the past three years by UM and its campus police, along with the Missoula Police Department and the Missoula County Attorney’s Office.

And last December, the university hired Diane Barz, a former Montana Supreme Court justice, to conduct an independent review of sexual assaults at UM after two students reported being assaulted, possibly after being drugged, by several male students in separate incidents.

Barz’s review eventually included nine alleged assaults, including one reported to police in December 2010, when a woman said four UM football players forcibly had sex with her, possibly after spiking her drink. At some point, police informed Pflugrad there was not enough evidence to pursue charges. The coach apparently did not tell the university’s top administrators.

Fritz Neighbor can be reached at 523-5247 or at fneighbor@missoulian.com.

(45) comments

pf1979
pf1979

Color me surprised that nobody at the university will tell the Missoulian anything...

brick
brick


"Reached by phone, Engstrom said he does not know the particulars of what the NCAA is investigating."
"Hi Royce I'm with the NCAA and we are going to investigate someone or something in your football program but I can't tell you who or what it is".
I feel as though I am locked in an episode of Seinfeld.
NCAA rules Bylaw 32.1 mentioned in this article states the NCAA investigator on request will notify the school of who is being investigated and what the alleged infraction is. How can you possibly do an investigation without revealing what it's about? Royce may not be sharing, but I doubt he doesn't know the nature of the inquiry.
Since NCAA is not law enforcement it's probably not related to possible criminal behavior.

MontanaNative1ed7
MontanaNative1ed7

Some of these athletes have a feeling of invincibility. They believe that if they are caught, the possibility to get away scot-free is most certain. They drug a woman with ruffies as a teamsport, thinking there will be no consequences because the victim will be shamed, or not able to prove the crime. The University will hire a criminal defense attorney griz board member. The football fans will protect and enable the sexual abuse by blaming it on the woman. Claiming it was the victim's fault or that the victim is framing the athlete.

Buckeye Fan
Buckeye Fan

Not only have University administration been arrogant, but so have Griz fans. It makes Tatoo-Gate at Ohio State look not so bad. Shame on all of you Griz fans who made fun of OSU last year...Serves you right if you ask me.

Pistol
Pistol

A couple of points. First the intervention by all of these agencies just means someone with a lot of political influence is behind these agencies becoming involved. Let us all hope that all of the sexual charges turn out to be alleged. Remember OBama's DOJ just spent millions on Edwards, and got zero conviction. Remember the faculty at Duke that got everyone involved, and coaches fired, and student athletes expelled over sexual charges only to have the charges dropped. Second, the lady that wrote she has 4 daughters, and grand daughters in Missoula, and she is afraid of the UM. Only one person has been charged, and he is a Big Sky HS graduate. These alleged crimes aren't restricted to out of state students or the university. Engstrom, Foley, and other administrators need to be fired. Not because they covered up crimes, but because they show no leadership in any of the issues presented. I hope Pflugrad, and O'Day win their lawsuits.

verity
verity

Actually this should not come as a surprise to anyone. When there was national publicity over two football players, including a quarterback, being tasered by the police and arrested at 2:00 a.m., and then being personally escorted by a University Vice-President the next day, a Sunday, to a prominent criminal defense attorney's office it was like a written, engraved invitation to the NCAA to investigate. What is surprising is how foolish and/or arrogant the University administration has been. Couture is gone, but a bunch of others need to be booted as well.

castigate
castigate

Sure is silent now over at The Mayor's Office. Our Professional Master of Ceremonies must be studying this situation like a chess game. "Hmmm...how do I come out smelling like a rose. How do I keep my future campaign contributors happy AND keep enough naive voters in my corner?" Poor John must be reaching deep to find a consulting firm that can "study downtown safety" so that he can look like he's doing something besides bullying and rubber stamping.

Been There
Been There

I have two daughters and 4 granddaughters who live in Missoula. I am concerned that no woman is safe from young men at the U who are on the prowl, so to speak, for a "good time". I sincerely wish they lived somewhere else.

Andy B Hammond
Andy B Hammond

Investigations by the DOE, DOJ, and the NCAA at a little university in Montana. Nothing going on here...

Can anybody show me a university that has had investigations by these three organizations going on at the same time? Has there been or are we the first?

smarterthanwalter
smarterthanwalter

Another Griz Football first! Who said there's no leadership in that program?

GrizRscrewed
GrizRscrewed

Another reminder why I left the Bitterroot valley. Blaming Obama for the cr@p going on at UM? WOW!! You guys crack me up. Pathetic (as usual).

GO MSU!

msla mom of 5 girls
msla mom of 5 girls

Just an observation-----press releases are now coming from the Bof R on "behalf" of the president, and Mslian articles are now being written under Fritz's name. Just sayin---

max_raa
max_raa

The Missoulian has some hilarious regulars in the comments area. 2003grizfan- do you seriously spend as much time as I think you do monitoring the comments about every story on this topic??

MT_Mama
MT_Mama

A day without walter12 saying "leftist thugs" and mentioning Holder is like a day without... without... well, I don't know what it would be like. You called it, history!

And where's all the vitriol for the writer of this article? Oh, that's right, you haters save it up for Florio, ignoring the fact that all the newspapers and TV stations are reporting the exact same things.

2003grizfan
2003grizfan

Wrong. This is a fair article. Gwen's are not. It's that simple. As for the TV stations, all they do is parrot what is in this paper and on the AP wire.

sport
sport

2003griz fan - you are still obsessinggggggggggg......... Go back and read the reply comments about your behavior. Then go take your medication. Please. Truly, as Hammond indicated, "you are looking like a fool" by all sides of this issue; even to the many of us who believe in the positive elements of Griz football in the community. You are sounding like some sort of irrational addict going through withdrawal and on the verge of going "postal." We challenge you to wait 12-24 hours to reply and then no more than 2 per article. Consider it a "real" Griz fan challenge. Train for it. Do it for the guys. And stop making a mockery out of the many loyal and rational Griz fans. You give us a bad name. Go volunteer at he U or somewhere. Surely you can find a more productive and rewarding use of your time.

2003grizfan
2003grizfan

Who do you think you are? I don't have to listen to you and I won't. You simply want to silence someone who disagrees with you and is critical of this paper and the way this situation has been handled.

Sport -- don't pretend like you support the university or the program. You do not. The fact that you side with those who want it gone proves that.

And if you agree with anything the radical right-wing Hammond says, you are the one who needs meds.

perky0731
perky0731

Honestly, I wake up in the morning and look forward to seeing you writing your inane comments. I wonder.... hmmm... do you work? Maybe you're on the "outs" with your boss for the way for your political blunders. Seriously. Listen to sport - comment below. Take a big breath. And realize you, my dear, dear friend, are in the minority.

Born Here
Born Here

I love it-

castigate
castigate

Best thing that could happen--they close that arrogant football program down and let the toxins run down the river. This program has become about money and power. Missoula's Football Mafia Must Go!

2003grizfan
2003grizfan

Least now you admit your hatred, if you name didn't give it away.

Without a football program, universities slip into obscurity. They don't matter. They are irrelevant at all levels. They might as well close up shop -- now I am sure that's what you want but most don't.

And you're right. Part of a football program is money. Money for academics -- millions of dollars worth. Money for campus facilities -- millions of dollars worth. Money from alumni and university supports -- millions of dollars worth. Without a program, there is no money. And since the state kicks in a pathetic 15 percent of university funding (the lowest of all 50 states) where would you make up the difference? Fact is you couldn't.

max_raa
max_raa

LOL. Where would places like Harvard, MIT, and CalTech BE without their stellar football programs??? Obscurity??? Oh no!!!! Without football, there is no money. There is no hope. All of our dreams will surely wither and die.... without the sacred football.. ;)

2003grizfan
2003grizfan

Private school. Private school. Private School. State schools need football not just as a way to pay for things, but as a source of unity. Public schools without football are irrelevant and fall into obscurity.

gorgon
gorgon

Can we count on you to work for increased state funding of our Universities? It would be great if it was back to 45% like it was in the 70s.

perky0731
perky0731

Darn. Another on the nose comment. Without football, people don't learn. Without football, doctors don't graduate from college, leading edge research is never conducted and... well, everything else is OBSCURE. Give me yet another break. The next time you go to the hospital, need some advanced medical treatment, need to build a house or study what's happening in our forests and our climate, make sure you just turn on a football game as that's all that matters. If you are right, and I am pretty convinced your responses are shallow and naive, then the only people of worth in the world are the football players.

walter12
walter12

I stated months ago that there is something much bigger going on within UM than the sexual assault angle. There is a group within UM, possibly hard core leftists, that hate the football program and have hated it for many years. It is they that brought in the despised Holder's bully boys, and now the NCAA. This does not happen by accident. If the UM alumni had any guts they would make some demands of these leftists at the school, or cut the school off from their sizable donated funds. Money talks.

DueProcess
DueProcess

Typical Missoulian, put the negative UM news on the Front Page in Headlines, but stick any positive news in section B, like the Jordan Johnson news. If The Missoulian had competition they would have been shuttered long ago. Now they are desperate to create web hits to justify their exhorbitant advertising rates.

PelosiGalore
PelosiGalore

DOG PILE!!! Maybe we can make a few calls to Nancy Drew, the Hardy Boys and Matlock and see if they want to launch investigations too.

MontanaNative1ed7
MontanaNative1ed7

The Washington Post and the LEFTY LIBERAL FOX NEWS just reported the same story.

http://msn.foxsports.com/collegefootball/story/NCAA-investigating-Montana-football-program-053012

http://msn.foxsports.com/collegefootball/story/NCAA-investigating-Montana-football-program-053012

smarterthanwalter
smarterthanwalter

I really hope that the lefty liberal comment was an attempt at humor. Hard to tell on the internet.

Roger
Roger

@history - there's really not much to comment on, except your strange attack. I suppose concepts such as "innocent until proven guilty" are foreign to you, or perhaps beyond the grasp of your intellect (using the term loosely).

2003grizfan
2003grizfan

How is this any different than yesterday? This inquiry has been going on since January. The only thing now is we know about it. The fact that nothing about it has leaked in 6 months likely means there's nothing there.

perky0731
perky0731

That would be four months.

2003grizfan
2003grizfan

The NCAA has dozens of inquires and investigations every year. Most turn out to be nothing.

Since the leadership has been changed and it was only a handful of the hundreds of students who have played in recent years that allegedly did anything wrong, I wouldn't expect much except recommendations to change things that have already changed.

Then again... The Missoulian will no doubt gin up the lynch mob based on half-facts and distortions to further its anti-UM, anti-Griz agenda. UM needs to realize it is at war and fight back.

Obama's DOJ and DOE are gunning for it (with this paper's help) and now the NCAA wants to join in on the party. Wait -- isn't that the definition of a gang-assault?

sport
sport

Can you give yourself 12-24 hours before you hit "send?" Think things through a little bit? Weigh reason over emotion? Count the number of times you post compared to the average Missoulian readership. Its a little out of control.

First, based on this more recent post of yours, you are assuming the investigation is about "only a handful of the hundreds of students who have played in recent years that allegedly did anything wrong." Have you considered it could be about any number of issues - recruitment, finances, grades, internal non-sexual harassment, etc. We don't know, nor does the University at this moment. The possibilities are many. Did you read the full article before posting? Its pretty straight forward news, not "a war on the UM," and it does not seem to include any "personal accusations" by a Missoulian writer toward the football team. Did you read the attached letter from the NCAA? Additionally the fact that "the leadership has now changed" does not exempt those individuals and the University from possible past violations and potential sanctions or consequences.

Secondly, consider waiting for more information before you post. Perhaps you have "accurate" inside knowledge. I doubt it, so it would seem you are wasting a lot of time and contributing negatively to your high blood pressure. This is actually "new" news to most of the average folks in the community. It is actually newsworthy far beyond Montana and has a legitimate place in the media. Most of what you write is based on your own impulse "half-facts and distortions." You make frequent "convictions" before you have all the information, and accuse individuals, journalists, and institutions of things you have little concrete evidence of. Then you say you are "withholding judgement." Your "judgement" appears to be a recurrent theme and repeat offense.

And how many posts do you have already? "History" is right, you are obsessed. Surely, you have a friend, partner or perhaps a therapist you can vent to with this type of frequency. This comment page is really not intended for such repeated misuse. Consider a Twitter acct.

Andy B Hammond
Andy B Hammond

Dude - your blind devotion to the U is admirable but come on. There is some major stuff going on and it is gonna get much much worse. You are looking like a fool.

While these men are innocent until proven guilty - where there's smoke there is fire.

I've been hearing about these things going on since the 90s and now the price will be paid. Karma.

2003grizfan
2003grizfan

Really? So why even bother having a justice system. Obviously you believe if someone says something it's true. Sort of like weapons of mass destruction right?

I look fine. You're tea party, Obama conspiracy, birther BS is what makes YOU the fool.

Andy B Hammond
Andy B Hammond

I'm have not brought my politics into this issue. However, we will see who is a fool and who is not when we look back five years from now - both on this issue and Obama. It won't be me.

Cato
Cato

Despite all the hearsay, of which Justice Barz apparently specialized in collecting, there have been exactly two incidents, one involving a Saudi student, and one involving a personal relationship that pre-dated a team member's involvement with collegiate football, that resulted in, or would likely have resulted in, criminal charges involving sexual assault or rape, covering a three year period.

Despite the enormous attention focused on the matter, any other charges have been surprisingly slow in coming, and so in most cases, likely won't be.

2003grizfan
2003grizfan

The Missoulian's war on UM continues. This is a 5 month old story anyway.

MiddleFinger
MiddleFinger

And who said this couldn't get any worse.

Twasn't me.

Andy B Hammond
Andy B Hammond

Sadly, we haven't seen the half of it.

history
history

Oh, I can hardly wait for the postings of 2003Grizfan, Walter12, and Roger. They have become the daily source of home and workplace comic relief for so many of us. As they are usually the first to post on any issue we won't have long to wait. I can already hear the repeated mantras of each of them: The "leftest thugs" (applied to every subject) from Walter; The, "You are all morons because you don't agree with me, so I can verbally bash all of you," from the obsessive 2003Griz fan (we can expect his characteristic accusations of having a "sad life" will be regurgitated once again); and of course we can expect the typical useless reactionary jibberish from Roger.

Bring it on boys. If we're lucky MissoulaMom will join in as well. And please make multiple posts so we can really be entertained. The community awaits our daily guffaw!

Lew
Lew

I don't know, I get just as big a hoot out of your posts.

Enlightened
Enlightened

Haha...you called it. On all accounts. My favorite is 2003's very condescending, "how sad", "your life is sad", "I feel sad for you that you think differently than me." Tough life putting up with all of the leftist Griz-destroying feminists in this town....

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