Simpkins apologizes for loan 'mistake' Terps senior says he's 'productive citizen'

February 17, 1996|By Ken Murray | Ken Murray,SUN STAFF

COLLEGE PARK -- Describing himself as a productive citizen at the University of Maryland, Duane Simpkins yesterday apologized for an NCAA violation that cut three games off his senior season, and moved to put the issue behiny for attempting to repay a university loan with money he received from a former AAU coach.

He violated NCAA bylaw 12.1.2(m), which prohibits a student from receiving preferential benefits on account of his or her athletics reputation or skill.

Flanked by his father, Sylvester, and with coach Gary Williams looking on, Simpkins issued a statement before yesterday's practice at Cole Field House, but did not answer questions or shed any new light on the infraction.

"Everyone makes mistakes," Simpkins said.

"I've made a mistake in a certain situation in accepting money from someone the NCAA deems as improper. I was in a bind . . . I panicked. I wanted to go to someone who I felt I could get proper funds from.

"To this point, I've been a productive citizen to my school, my father, my family and friends. In no way do I feel that this particular incident should be any indication of what kind of person I am, what type father I have or what type family I was raised by.

"If this is the worst thing I've done thus far in my life. . . . I've been a pretty good person."

Although Williams refused to comment yesterday, he confirmed on his pre-game radio show Thursday that the violation involved parking tickets.

The Washington Post reported that Simpkins' loan was for $1,000 in fines for campus parking violations during the fall.

Simpkins, who has a car, lives off-campus with two teammates.

On Thursday, athletic director Debbie Yow said the loan has been paid through means acceptable to the NCAA.

She also acknowledged that the university bursar, Lynn Van Wagenen, caught the potential violation when Simpkins first tried to repay the loan last week. The university accepted a second check from Simpkins, who, according to Yow, admitted this week that the money came from his coach with the DC Players.

The Washington AAU team is coached by Donnie Gross.

The issue came to a boil Thursday, when the NCAA handed out a three-game penalty.

"I've never had more distraction the day of the game than [Thursday]," Williams said.

The loss of Simpkins proved costly. Without their best three-point shooter, the Terps missed 14 of 18 three-pointers and lost, 85-78, to No. 8 Wake Forest. Simpkins, averaging 12.8 points, is shooting 50 percent from the field and 49.3 from the arc through 20 games.

He will miss tomorrow's critical nonconference game at Cole Field House against Missouri and Thursday's game against North Carolina State. He can return for a Feb. 24 game at Clemson.

"People say we lost our point guard," Williams said. "Well, yeah. But we've got some guys who can handle the ball. Duane's been our most effective outside shooter the last two years. We don't have that. That really hurt us."

Freshmen Terrell Stokes and Laron Profit played point guard in Simpkins' absence.

"Nobody can replace Duane," Profit said.

In his post-game remarks Thursday, Williams called Simpkins an exemplary person.

"He's one of those people you appreciate having in the program because he makes the program look good," Williams said. "He made a mistake, but we all make mistakes. I'm proud of the way he's handling it.

"I thought he tried to do the best he could [to repay the loan], but some things weren't right with it."

Simpkins was eager to put the issue to rest.

"I'm glad I got this all behind me," he said. "This is a long time coming . . . it's been on my mind, been on the coach's mind. It's been a very big distraction to all those involved."

NOTE: About 1,000 tickets are available for tomorrow's 2 p.m. game against Missouri, which has NCAA tournament implications for the Terps (5-6 ACC, 12-9 overall). To order by phone, call (800) 462-TERP.

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