GW will report itself to the NCAA for violations after four men’s basketball players illegally used an assistant coach’s long-distance phone code to make $1,400 worth of calls, said Robert Chernak, vice president for Student Academic and Support Services.
Seniors Mike King and Bernard Barrow and freshmen Darnell Miller and Marquin Chandler used the ACUS personal security code of assistant coach Tom Penders, Jr., to make long distance calls, Chernak confirmed Wednesday.
“We have to self-report that to the NCAA because it’s a violation of the extra benefit rules,” Chernak said. “And there might be some extra punishment for the players involved, which could mean sitting out some games.”
Chernak said he does not know if GW will decide to report the violation to the NCAA now, or wait until the total amount of money spent on phone calls is calculated. He said more players may be involved, but he will not know until the Telecommunications Department produces bills for March and April.
The athletic department discovered the violations Friday during a routine audit of January and February access code charges, Chernak said. He said Athletic Director Jack Kvancz called the four players into his office Monday, and they admitted using the code.
“They had admitted that they had (used the code) and (Kvancz) gave them the prescription for what they would have to do, which is to pay the phone bills,” Chernak said.
An anonymous source told The Washington Post that Chandler obtained the code, made $500 to $600 in calls and provided the access number to the other players, according to a story printed Wednesday.
“Basically, in terms of the phone issue, what was reported in The Post is accurate,” Chernak said.
Chandler had a copy of The Post sports section in his side pocket Wednesday as he walked to the Smith Center for a team meeting, but the GW player had no comment when asked about the charges.
Miller also declined comment.
The Colonials team met for about an hour Wednesday with Kvancz, Assistant Director of Athletics Dom Perno and other team officials at the Smith Center.
Head coach Tom Penders said he met with players earlier in the year to warn them not to use illegal phone codes.
“It’s certainly something we went over and talked about it,” Penders said. “To use an (unauthorized) credit card or a number is illegal.”
Penders said he will wait until the investigation is complete to decide whether to punish the players.
Chernak said Penders is responsible for his players’ actions.
“Anyone who is a head coach for a team has an accountability for what happens in the program,” Chernak said.
When asked at the Smith Center about Penders’s future Wednesday, Kvancz had little to say.
“He’s the basketball coach,” Kvancz said.
Kvancz showed displeasure when asked about Penders’s failure to tell him about a new trial date for GW junior Attila Cosby, who will face nine misdemeanor charges relating to his dismissed felony sexual abuse charge from an incident last May.
Penders said he knew about the court proceedings, but he did not inform Kvancz. Kvancz found out last weekend when The Hatchet called him for comment.
GW associate head coach Rob Wright said he did not learn about the phone incident until Wednesday morning. Wright said he went on recruitment trips to Rochester, N.Y., Houston and Philadelphia. He also said Tommy Penders Jr., was away on a recruiting trip. Wright had a one-on-one meeting with Kvancz late Wednesday afternoon.
Assistant coach Bonzie Colson had no comment when approached Wednesday, and administrative assistant James McGovern said from the basketball offices that he expected no one to comment.
“It’s better to leave this alone,” McGovern said.
Senior Director of Athletics Mary Jo Warner said she did not know who broke the story to The Post. Other GW athletic officials said they are sure the source’s identity was being investigated.
–Rich Murphy and Jason Steinhardt contributed to this report.