NCAA executive director Dick Schultz resigned yesterday, saying false accusations against him threatened the organization's credibility.
Schultz was implicated in major NCAA rules violations that occurred while he was athletic director at Virginia from 1981 to 1987. A report by an independent investigator released yesterday said that Schultz knew of "at least some" improper interest-free loans to athletes and failed to report them to the NCAA.
Schultz said: "That conclusion is wrong. . . . I'm really tempted to refute the whole thing point by point,and I could do that."
But a protracted personal battle would damage the NCAA, Schultz said.
"I don't want to contribute to the destruction of something I worked so hard to create," Schultz said. "If you take that as an admission of guilt, you're dead wrong. . . . My whole concern in this is not personal. It is for the association."
Despite the report, compiled by Kentucky attorney James Park, NCAA president Joseph Crowley said Schultz received a unanimous vote of confidence from the 14-member NCAA Executive Committee after 12 to 14 hours of deliberation last week.
Crowley said the committee's judgment was based on Schultz's history of integrity and an admission from Park that "reasonable persons could reach different results in resolving the conflicting evidence."
Schultz, 63, under contract through August 1995, will remain as executive director until a successor is found. The executive committee will coordinate the search, which lasted six months when Schultz was hired to replace Walter Byers in 1987.
"It's a sad kind of situation," said Atlantic Coast Conference commissioner Gene Corrigan, who preceded Schultz as athletic director at Virginia. "There's something wrong with our rules. I think we've created a monster. Somehow the punishment doesn't fit the crime."
Said Maryland athletic director Andy Geiger, who has known Schultz since they were both administrators in the Ivy League during the 1970s: "I'm disappointed, but I'm not critical of Dick's decision. I'm disappointed for college athletics. I think he did a wonderful job for the NCAA. He built a base of confidence in a lot of people. The reform movement has a life of its own. But we will miss his vision and his intelligence."
Geiger, whose name has been raised as a possible successor to Schultz, said that he is not "an active candidate." Asked if he would consider the job, if approached, Geiger said: "I believe in the University of Maryland. I've got my hands full. I'm focused there."