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Dustin Monke and Ashley Martin / Forum Communications Co., Published August 13 2011

Memo points to illegal payments by former DSU VB coach

DICKINSON, N.D. – A memo between Dickinson State University employees in December points to possible illegal payments made to student-athletes by the school’s former head volleyball coach during the 2010 fall semester.

According to the memo, dated Dec. 15 and released to The Dickinson Press after an open records request Friday, an employee in the university’s multicultural affairs office had been approached by at least one student-athlete as to why they were no longer receiving additional cash funds promised by former head volleyball coach Ryan Platt to cover housing costs.

Platt had resigned just days earlier after the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) placed him and the volleyball team on probation through the 2011-12 school year for violations committed during the 2010 season.

The violations involved inappropriate conduct and the use of ineligible players. Wednesday, the NAIA said it would not go into detail on the specifics of the violations.

Pat Seaworth, general counsel and executive secretary for the North Dakota University System, said student-athletes receiving cash from a coach would be unusual, but added the allegations in the memo have not been proven.

“The institution policies regarding financial aid to students are largely dictated by athletic association and (Dakota Athletic) Conference rules, and in that case, the governing rules would be the NAIA rules and conference rules,” Seaworth said. “I just haven’t looked at or researched how those rules might apply to this situation.”

NAIA and DAC rules limit the amount of financial aid to student-athletes.

“Generally speaking, it can’t exceed the amount of tuition and fees, room and board, books, or the cost of education.”

The memo was sent by Ronnie Walker, DSU director for multicultural affairs, to Hal Haynes, DSU vice president for student development.

Desiree Johnson, the employee who was approached by the student-athlete, was “surprised and confused,” by the visit, according to the memo. The memo stated that the student-athlete was sent to see athletic director Tim Daniel after visiting the Office of Multicultural Affairs.

Walker stated in the memo: “I agreed with Desiree that this was out of the ordinary, but not wanting to tell the student that this as highly irregular and possibly illegal, I told Desiree to send (student-athlete’s name removed) down to see Tim Daniels (sic), the athletic director.”

The memo states that Daniel visited Walker and gave her information about Platt and his resignation.

“Tim told me the students told him Ryan had advised them to transfer out, but so far (information removed) affected student is enrolled in classes for the spring 2011 semester.”

NDUS Chancellor William Goetz has ordered a preliminary review of the DSU athletic department, which Debra Anderson, the director of public affairs and marketing for NDUS, said is under way.

Seaworth said the athletic department is the only DSU department under review by the NDUS. He added that while DSU enrollment procedures were being reviewed, unsolicited comments were made to the chancellor’s office, pointing to suspicious activity in the athletic department.

Seaworth said he does not know of any connection between the allegations and Dr. Richard McCallum, whose position as DSU’s president may be terminated following a review that found 180 people were enrolled at the university without their consent.

Daniel said he could not comment on the matter until the review of the athletic department is complete.

Monke and Martin write for the Dickinson Press,

which is owned by Forum Communications Co.