Harvard and three other Ivy League schools are investigating charges that several student-athletes improperly received gifts or favors from an unidentified benefactor. University sources said yesterday.
The man, whom officials would not identify other than to say he was not an Ivy League alumnus, has contacted "about ten" Harvard students in the past few years. John B. Fox, dean of the College, said yesterday.
Harvard, Yale, Princeton, and Dartmouth are coordinating an investigation that will examine allegations of free meals and expense-paid trips that the man may have provided for athletes and other students at the schools.
The universities are not accused of any wrongdoing, but Harvard is looking into possible violations of National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) or Ivy Group regulations by either the man or the students, John B. Reardon Jr. '60, director of Athletics, said yesterday.
"Up to this point in our investigation, we have not uncovered anything that we perceive as illegal or in violation of NCAA guidelines, but we're still looking into it," Fox said.
He said Harvard's investigation into the affair would be completed "within the next couple of weeks."
Citing Federal privacy statutes. Fox refused to reveal the names of any students involved with the man. He said "rumors" of sexual relationships between the man and the students were "completely unsubstantiated" by his investigation.
Harvard officials learned of the man's activities in May and have been investigating the matter since, Fox said. He added that neither he nor any other University official had contacted the man.
A Yale spokesman, Walter Littell, released the following statement about the matter Wednesday: "Upon first learning of these rumours in late December 1980. Frank B. Ryan, director of athletics at Yale, met with the individual on whom the rumors centered in order to determine what substance there might be to them, and there followed a prolonged attempt to obtain information from the individual.
"It became apparent that Yale would not be provided with the information it needed in order to complete a review of the matter. Consequently, although no evidence of any violations had been determined, in May other Ivy institutions were informed of the matter by Yale through their respective general counsels' offices...This inquiry is not finished. Should the facts warrant it, the NCAA and the Ivy League will be informed."
Ryan declined to elaborate on the statement yesterday, saying. "It would be inappropriate for me to comment on an investigation I am involved in."
Sources said the man did not contact students for recruiting purposes but rather after they were students at the schools. "The NCAA rules are written most especially to deal with recruiting and professionalization, so that's what makes this case a little tricky," Reardon said.
Officials said some of the Harvard students involved had graduated and some were still undergraduates.