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Ousted UAA athletic director says ex-coach had 'inappropriate relationship' with student athlete

Bob Hallinen

Tim Moser, the coach behind some of UAA's greatest athletic successes as well as one of its biggest scandals, was involved in an "inappropriate relationship" with a player prior to his abrupt resignation two years ago, the school's former athletic director said Friday.

Steve Cobb, ousted as athletic director last year amid controversy involving the hockey program, said a university investigation made it "clear that Coach Moser had been involved in an inappropriate relationship with one of his players."

Moser, now an assistant coach for the Colorado State women's basketball team, repeatedly denied the allegation in a phone interview Friday.

"It's not true," he said. "God, no. These allegations are not true. This whole thing was investigated based on a rumor, and there's definitely no cover-up.

"I did not do anything with any player. Nothing."

In a written statement released Friday afternoon, UAA neither confirmed nor denied that an inappropriate relationship existed.

The school did deny other claims made by Cobb -- that Cobb fired Moser, and that the university subsequently struck a deal with Moser in which his exit was called a resignation.

Cobb, the school's athletic director for 13 years, said he plans to sue the university over the circumstances of his dismissal a year ago.

uaa: no 'alleged scandal'

UAA confirmed last year that it investigated Moser, but would not provide details. The school denied then, and again on Friday, a request made under Alaska public records laws for the report of its investigation.

"Release of further information would cause unwarranted harm to students and likely would result in University liability to students," UAA spokesperson Kristen DeSmith wrote. "Because he resigned, the University can take no action against Tim Moser. Thus while an alleged scandal may be newsworthy, it does not serve the public interest or the interests of UAA students."

UAA last week revealed that Moser, who lifted the women's team to national prominence during a six-year run filled with championships and playoff appearances, made improper payments to two players during the 2011-12 season, his last season with the Seawolves.

The payments were ruled a major violation by the NCAA, the governing body of intercollegiate sports. It was the third major NCAA violation in UAA history and the first in nearly 30 years.

According to the NCAA report, UAA learned in July 2012 that an athlete had received more money than her scholarship was worth, which sparked the investigation that led to NCAA penalties against UAA and Moser.

Moser left the university in May 2012. By then, Cobb said, allegations of an inappropriate relationship had been made.

"About this time two years ago, a student athlete filed a complaint with our human resources department concerning Coach Moser's behavior, (and) human resources opened an investigation," said Cobb, who recently left Alaska for Florida, where he was reached by phone. "I didn't think much about it at the time because the complaint was from a disgruntled athlete who was leaving the program."

During the course of the investigation, Cobb said, he became convinced an inappropriate relationship existed because of text messages and eyewitness reports, although he did not provide further details.

Cobb further alleged that investigators learned that Moser "directed someone to intimidate the witness."

"At that point it became clear to me that Coach Moser could no longer coach our team," Cobb said. "The athlete involved was a consenting adult, so there was no crime, but (Moser) certainly violated university policies and put himself in a position where he could no longer coach our team."

Accusations of a secret deal

Cobb said he fired Moser in the spring of 2012. The next day, he said, he was told by university officials that a deal had been struck with the coach or his lawyers to call the departure a resignation and to not comment publicly after the unexpected, unexplained exit of one of the most successful coaches in school history.

"I opposed that," he said. "I believe there was a larger moral obligation not only to our student athletes but also to other schools that might choose to hire his services.

"... Coach Moser was given a leadership position where he exercised power and control over others, and that carried a higher obligation over what may have been legal or not."

Cobb said when he objected to the alleged agreement between UAA and Moser over the characterization of Moser's departure, "I was instructed to take the deal. That came from statewide legal."

Cobb didn't identify anyone other than Moser -- not the player involved in what Cobb said was a consensual relationship with the coach, not the player he said made the initial complaint and not the player who allegedly was told to "intimidate" a witness.

Moser said there was no attempt to intimidate a witness and no agreement between him and the school over his exit. There was an investigation, he said, but nothing ever came of it.

"A rumor got taken all the way up, but nothing came of it because nothing happened," he said. "The investigation showed there was no inappropriate relationship."

Cobb said Friday evening that he stands behind his allegations.

a winning coach

Moser, who played on the UAA men's basketball team in 1989-91 and returned to Anchorage in 2006 as the head women's basketball coach, said Friday that the allegations by Cobb puts him in a position where he needs to prove that something didn't happen.

"He's obviously disgruntled," Moser said of Cobb. "I don't think he's being honest, and I don't think anyone can verify (the allegations). And it's really hard to disprove a false allegation."

At UAA, Moser immediately revitalized a struggling program. In six seasons, he compiled a 165-32 win-loss record while guiding the Seawolves to three West Region championships and four Great Alaska Shootout championships. He took the Seawolves to the NCAA playoffs every season, advancing twice to the Final Four and to at least the second round four other times.

When Moser left UAA, his .838 winning percentage was the best in the nation among active Division II women's coaches. It was the seventh best at any NCAA level.

Colorado State, which hired Moser shortly after he left UAA, issued a statement of support last week when it was revealed Moser and volunteer assistant coach Elisha Harris made about $7,300 worth of cash deposits into the bank accounts of two players. Moser, in a written statement issued last week, said he did so to fulfill scholarship promises made to the players.

As part of the NCAA's penalties against Moser and UAA, UAA must forfeit 15 of its 30 victories from the 2011-12 women's basketball season and will lose almost a full scholarship from the maximum 10 allowed by the NCAA. The forfeits drop Moser's career record at UAA to 150-47.

Rebecca Kielpinski, an All-America center at UAA who played three seasons with Moser as her coach, said she doesn't believe the allegations of an inappropriate relationship.

"I played for him for three years," said Kielpinski, whose final season at UAA was 2008-09, "and the fact that someone would say that about him really upsets me. Knowing him for the last seven years, he's a man of character.

"I don't think that it is fair to him and the things that he's done for the girls and the teams that he's coached. He's been a great mentor and would never have inappropriate relationships with any of his kids."

Reach Beth Bragg at bbragg@adn.com or 257-4335.

 


By BETH BRAGG
bbragg@adn.com