Did Duke player break NCAA rules? Laettner made deal with GQ magazine before last season, newspaper alleges.


WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- Duke University basketball star Christian Laettner may have violated NCAA rules when he agreed last summer to write a diary for GQ magazine, a newspaper reported today.

The deal could render Laettner ineligible and make Duke subject to sanctions that range from a letter of reprimand to forfeiture of ,, all games, including the NCAA championship, the Winston-Salem Journal reported in a copyright story.

But a spokeswoman for the magazine said today that Duke and GQ were careful to follow the rules.

"Our manager Eliot Kaplan went to great pains to work with Duke to make sure there were no violations ... and Duke got permission from the NCAA," GQ's Cathy O'Brien said.

Mr. Laettner, the center and leading scorer for Duke's championship team, agreed last August to keep a diary during the season which would be published by the magazine later this year, a GQ editor and former editor said.

"If it's accepted, we've settled on a fee," managing editor David Granger said today.

NCAA rules say a student athlete's eligibility is jeopardized if he makes an agreement for professional services or promotes a product while still eligible.

"I think that we would look at the facts overall, but I don't think we would distinguish between an oral or written agreement," said NCAA official Rick Evrard. "An agreement is an agreement."

Tom Butters, Duke's athletic director, said he did not know that Mr. Laettner was writing the diary. Chris Kennedy, Duke's NCAA rules compliance director, said he knew about the diary but thought it posed no problem. "As far as I know, there was no contract," he said.

The Journal reported today that Mr. Kaplan, GQ's former managing editor, said Mr. Laettner signed a standard writing contract. Mr. Granger disputed that today.

"After people started calling me this morning I checked. We have no paper contract with Christian Laettner," Granger said.

He said Mr. Kaplan apparently assumed there was a written contract "since we have one with all writers."

Mr. Kaplan, now editor at Philadelphia Magazine, could not be reached immediately for comment. Mr. Laettner made no secret of his deal with GQ. He told reporters at an informal March 9 press conference that he agreed last summer to make weekly tape-recorded entries for GQ and would be paid after publication.

"[I'm] just making tapes, one entry a week," Mr. Laettner said.

He was asked, "Can they pay you for that?"

Mr. Laettner replied: "They pay you when the article comes out, yeah."

Mr. Evrard, speaking in general terms, stated: "Whether the institution knew it or not, and he played on a team, they are subject to forfeiture of any game that he has played in since he made the agreement."

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