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Nebraska Wrestling: NU says allegations in ESPN’s story false

June 19th, 2009 by Tom

By Lee Barfknecht

 LINCOLN " A recent internal review of the Nebraska wrestling program has uncovered no NCAA violations, despite allegations by two former athletes booted from the team.

The Nebraska compliance office issued a statement Thursday in response to a story on ESPN's Web site that included new claims of underage drinking at coach Mark Manning's wedding in 2006 and up to $1,000 changing hands during poker games between Husker coaches and wrestlers.

NU's response: "While there have been poker games played in the past between at least one wrestling coach and several wrestlers, there is no evidence to suggest that any NCAA violations have taken place.

"In addition, we have not found any violations in any of the information that ESPN has obtained in their pursuit of a story about Nebraska athletics.''

NU Athletic Director Tom Osborne, gone Thursday on a long-scheduled fishing trip, wasn't available for comment.

Manning downplayed the ESPN story " with the title "Naked in Nebraska'' " as a rehash of old events since the dismissals last August of Paul Donahoe and Kenny Jordan, who posed nude on a pornographic Web site.

"After digging around here for three months, I guess ESPN had to write something,'' Manning said. "It's way behind us. I put it behind us last August.

"Most people understand what type of kids we have on our team. It's unfortunate these two guys made mistakes.''

The story's main author is Paula Lavigne, a 1998 Nebraska graduate who grew up in Gretna. Lavigne said by e-mail Thursday that she has worked at ESPN for about a year, and that "it was just happenstance I ended up on this story.''

In the story, Donahoe claims that Manning allowed underage drinking at his 2006 wedding reception in Oklahoma.

"That's not true,'' Manning repeated three times Thursday. Another university employee, who attended the wedding, said the reception had a cash bar where hotel workers had the duty of checking IDs.

As for the poker, Jordan told ESPN that coaches or wrestlers sometimes left the table with as much as $800 to $1,000, saying: "They're big cash games.''

"That never happened,'' Manning said. "That's not accurate. All of that has been discussed.''

Assistant coach Mike Greenfield told ESPN he played poker with wrestlers, but never won or lost more than $40 to $50.

Manning said Nebraska's review of his program has led to no internal sanctions or orders to change his mode of operation. The Huskers finished fourth at the NCAA championships in March, and Manning was voted national coach of the year by Wrestling Insider Newsmagazine.

Donahoe, five paragraphs from the bottom of the lengthy ESPN story, recants his allegations of Nebraska committing NCAA violations, saying:

"I said that? I must have been on drugs or something. I don't remember that.''

Contact the writer:

444-1024, [email protected]

Naked in Nebraska: a wrestler’s story

June 12th, 2009 by Tom

-videos from ESPN-

LINCOLN, Neb. -- A photo of wrestler Paul Donahoe, arms raised in victory, rushing from the mat, is still on the wall at the University of Nebraska's Bob Devaney Sports Center, where he worked his way to a 2007 national championship in the 125-pound weight class.

Donahoe was both the pride and potential of Nebraska's esteemed wrestling program, which has produced six Olympic wrestlers, including 2000 gold medalist Rulon Gardner.

But this past summer, before Donahoe's final season and his last shot at another national championship, that pride turned to shame. A phone call from a parent tipped university officials off to nude photos and video of Donahoe on Fratmen.tv, a pornographic Web site aimed at gay men.

 Think a wrestling singlet is revealing? The photos and video of Donahoe on Fratmen.tv left nothing to the imagination. There Donahoe was, gyrating and masturbating among tousled bed sheets, under running water in a marbled tile shower and on a charcoal chaise lounge facing a patio window. At times, the big, black-and-red trademark "N "for Nebraska, which is tattooed on his left thigh, was visible.

He went by the stage name "Nash."

The Web site's producers masked the tattoo of his real last name on his torso. But that didn't keep Nebraska wrestling coach Mark Manning from recognizing Donahoe when the images reached his desk. On Aug. 12, 2008, Manning kicked his national champion off the team.

He did the same to Donahoe's cohort, Kenny Jordan, whom Fratmen.tv also paid to pose nude.

The gay porn offended moral consciences in the Nebraska athletic department and among Huskers fans, some of whom called into "The Spread, "a local sports talk radio show, to debate the athletes' dismissal, says co-host and former Nebraska football player Jason Peter.

"I think it's probably the act itself that people probably couldn't fathom, or didn't register in people's heads that this would actually happen in Lincoln, Nebraska, with college kids, "Peter says. "I think when people think of the porn industry, they're probably thinking it's either Las Vegas or it's Los Angeles. "¦ But in your own backyard, I think it probably shocked people a little bit. Even though they didn't talk about it a lot, I'm sure a lot of people were wondering, 'How did they come to this decision?'"

Both wrestlers say a rep from Fratmen.tv contacted them through their Facebook and MySpace pages, asking them whether they would like to make some money and score a free trip to Los Angeles by posing for some pictures.

It is an NCAA violation for an athlete to take money to promote his image, according to Nebraska officials. That transgression goes against NCAA rules intended to preserve amateurism, and it can result in a loss of eligibility. Reinstating that eligibility is handled on a case-by-case basis, but the NCAA doesn't comment on individual cases. The wrestlers refused to say how much they earned from the Web site. But Donahoe claims he paid back $3,500 -- the value of his earnings and the trip to L.A. -- to reinstate his NCAA eligibility.

Much Much more on this story at ESPN.

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NCAA.com: Nebraska Dismisses 2 For Posing for Nude Photos

September 15th, 2008 by Tom

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) -Two Nebraska wrestlers, including one who won an NCAA championship in 2007, have been dismissed from the team after posing naked for videos and photographs on an Internet pornography site.

Paul Donahoe and Kenny Jordan were let go Tuesday, three days after a blog posted images of them taken from Fratmentv.com, a Web site featuring naked or partially clothed male athletes.

"The history of behavior of these men, including the current matter, does not reflect the standard of excellence we aspire to on and off the mat, "coach Mark Manning said in a statement. "We have outstanding student-athletes in our program and we will move forward in a positive manner toward our goals.

"I want to personally apologize for any embarrassment that may have been caused for our athletic department, the university and our fans."

Manning didn't address the nature of the wrestlers' past transgressions, and didn't immediately return a message left on his cell phone seeking comment.

Donahoe did not respond to an e-mail seeking comment. The Associated Press has requested interviews with the men through the athletic department. Personal phone numbers couldn't be found.

The athletic department became aware of the images on the Internet late last week, assistant athletic director for compliance Josh White said. Donahoe and Jordan were declared ineligible because they violated an NCAA rule that prohibits athletes from appearing in pictures for commercial use, White said.

Donahoe and Jordan would have to apply to the NCAA for reinstatement if they choose to wrestle for another school, White said.

Donahoe, who would be a senior, won the Big 12 championship at 125 pounds in 2008 and placed third in the NCAA tournament after winning the title the year before.

Jordan, a junior 133-pounder, was fourth in the Big 12 and failed to place at nationals this past season.

The Scarlet Project, a blog that touts itself for reporting "news, scandal and gossip "at the university, posted the pictures online but altered them so that they didn't show full nudity. The blog reported that they were obtained from an anonymous person.

John Marsh, who operates Fratmentv.com and two related Web sites catering to gay men, said he's spoken with Donahoe and Jordan and that both indicated they want to continue as college wrestlers. He said Donahoe was a "dynamite "wrestler.

"If Nebraska is going to be pigheaded and kick him off unreasonably, "Marsh said, "there has to be another wrestling program that's going to want him."

Marsh said most photo and video shoots are done in Los Angeles, where Fratmentv.com is based, but that some are done at other locations. Members of Fratmentv.com pay $24.99 for access to hundreds of images and videos.

Marsh wouldn't say how much he pays models or how he hires them.

"It's not money that they would be making working as a waiter, "he said. "They get well-compensated. It's better than beer money."

Marsh said his models typically don't care about videos and pictures of them being seen on the Web.

"I'm in my mid 40s, and my generation has a stigma about porn, "he said. "The kids, the generation of the student-athletes, don't have that stigma. They really don't care.

"They've come from a Paris Hilton, Tommy Lee-Pamela Anderson sex tape generation, Myspace pages. The shame and stigma aren't there for them. They're mostly worried about what their parents are going to think, because their parents think it's horrifying."