BY The Cincinnati Enquirer
-- Gambling by a local bar owner is no longer under review by the University of Kentucky and the NCAA, but a police investigation of bar owner Jim Haney Jr. continues.
Police and prosecutors met Wednesday to discuss the case, which stems from the alcohol-related deaths of three college students, including a UK football player, in two incidents after they visited Mr. Haney's bar or his adjoining home.
The review of Mr. Haney's gambling found no reason to believe the betting had anything to do with UK or college sports, said Bill Saum, who oversees gambling matters for the NCAA.
"At this point we understand that the gambling debts have been identified as a legal casino that doesn't have sports wagering," Mr. Saum said. "From the NCAA standpoint, we have no more to do with it."
The link between UK players and Mr. Haney, who acknowledged $8,000 in betting losses in 1996, had raised red flags at UK and the NCAA. The NCAA bars college athletes from gambling on college sports or sharing information with gamblers.
Mr. Saum said he advised UK in the matter, but the
school did the legwork in looking into whether Mr. Haney's gambling was related to the school.
No one from UK talked to Mr. Haney, his attorney, David Van Horn, said Tuesday. Mr. Van Horn said Mr. Haney lost the money gambling on a riverboat casino.
Mr. Saum said he closed the review Wednesday after Sandra Bell, UK's assistant athletic director for NCAA compliance, told him what UK had learned.
Also Wednesday, police met for more than two hours to discuss their investigation into a Nov. 15 crash that killed two college students and the Nov. 6 death of another student.
UK starting center Jason Watts, 21, was charged with drunken driving and two counts of second-degree manslaughter in connection with the deaths of his teammate, Arthur Steinmetz, 19, and Christopher Scott Brock, 21, an Eastern Kentucky University student.
Mr. Watts was driving a pickup truck that crashed on a Pulaski County road after the three had visited Mr. Haney on Nov. 15.
Tests showed Mr. Watts' blood-alcohol level was 0.15 percent -- over the legal limit of 0.10. Mr. Brock and Mr. Steinmetz also were drunk, tests showed.
Fran Root, assistant police chief in Lexington, said police are investigating the deaths and the Nov. 6 death of UK student Chad Clore, 19.
Mr. Clore was drunk when he was hit by a train near Mr. Haney's bar. He had been at Mr. Haney's house, which is attached to the bar. Mr. Root said the investigation will continue but did not report any findings from the meeting.
Mr. Van Horn said police have come up empty-handed but have embarked on an overkill effort to nail his client.
"If they had anything, they would have cited or arrested him a long time ago," Mr. Van Horn said.
Kentucky coach Hal Mumme said Wednesday that Mr. Watts was one of "six to eight" players he subjected to
random alcohol tests throughout the school year and that he in essence gave Mr. Watts a third chance last summer after tests revealed he had consumed alcohol.
Mr. Mumme said he began testing Mr. Watts after an incident in July 1997 when Mr. Watts, legally drunk at the time with a 0.129 percent blood-alcohol content, accidentally shot teammate Omar Smith in the buttocks with a gun.
"I don't know how many times we tested him total," Mr. Mumme said. "I pulled out all of the '98 files, and there were 11 (tests) in the last six months, and he had only been positive one minor time in the summer, and I called him in at that point and told him, 'If it ever happens again, you're gone.' "
He said he didn't have any other problems with Mr. Watts until the wreck.
Mr. Mumme wouldn't name the other players who are subjected to alcohol testing or say specifically why they are tested.
"If they exhibited a tendency, they're being tested," he said.