Coach charged with lying to grand jury

By Gus Bode

SIU assistant men’s basketball coach Shane Hawkins was charged Wednesday with lying to a grand jury as part of an investigation into misdeeds at Barton County Community College in Kansas.

Hawkins, who was an assistant basketball coach at Barton County from 1999-2001, became the fifth sports official from the community college to be indicted. Hawkins handled recruiting and monitored the academic progress of student-athletes, among other duties as an assistant basketball coach for the Cougars, according to SIU’s official athletic Web site.

Barton County coaches have been accused of helping athletes obtain grants they weren’t qualified for, securing paid campus jobs where athletes did no work and helping with coursework and tests. According to United States Attorney for Kansas Eric Melgren’s Web site, Hawkins made a false statement before a federal grand jury on June 22, 2004, saying he was unaware student-athletes were being paid for work they didn’t perform under his supervision. According to the United States attorney, if convicted, Hawkins could be sentenced to as much as five years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine.

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“We’re not going to do anything until we actually find out what is actually going on with the whole situation,” said SIU head coach Chris Lowery, who added Hawkins has not been suspended. ” We’re just going to sit back and play it by ear.”

Hawkins, an alumnus of SIU who played basketball from 1995-98, returned to the school as a graduate manager on former Saluki coach Bruce Weber’s staff. Hawkins was promoted to assistant coach of men’s basketball during the summer of 2004. He has handled recruiting, team travel and other events for the Salukis.

“At this point, we’re going to support Hawk as much as possible,” Lowery said. “(We will) continue to go on with our day-to-day stuff in the program.”

Other former Barton County officials who have been indicted are basketball coaches Ryan Wolf, Dave Campbell and assistant coach Matt Skillman. Skillman has pleaded guilty to embezzlement charges according to an Associated Press story. Former Barton County Community College president Veldon Law has also been fired.

Assistant Saluki coach Jack Owens, who also worked in the men’s basketball program at Barton County from 2000-2002, has not been implicated. Lowery said he didn’t think the SIU program would be affected by Hawkins’ indictment.

“Obviously, the players … and myself are the main focus of the program,” Lowery said. “Something like this can be tracked. But at this point, it shouldn’t be too big of a deal.”

Reporter Gabe House can be reached at [email protected]

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Reporters Jordan Wilson and Zack Creglow contributed to this report.

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