Athletic Director Linked to Payoff OfferAP , Associated Press
Jun. 19, 1996 9:53 PM ET
DULUTH, MINN. DULUTH, Minn. (AP) _ The athletic director at the University of Minnesota-Duluth offered to arrange a payment to a student if she would decline to testify against a hockey player who assaulted her, the Star Tribune reported Wednesday.
The newspaper, in a copyright story, cited a police investigation from 1992 and 1993 that did not result in charges against Bruce McLeod, who is also the commissioner of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association.
The player, Sergei Krivokrasov, pleaded guilty to an assault charge in 1993 and now plays for the Chicago Blackhawks.
Transcripts show that during a meeting in his office, McLeod discussed with Erin Masser, then a sophomore, the disadvantages of pursuing an assault case. He offered to act as ``middleman'' in delivering money from Krivokrasov, who had signed a pro contract worth $900,000, the newspaper said.
As part of the investigation into suspected witness tampering and bribery by McLeod, Duluth police taped conversations between McLeod and Masser.
The St. Louis County attorney's office never filed charges against McLeod, in part because no money changed hands, according to the attorney who examined the case. However, police Lt. John Hall, who directed the investigation, told the paper that there was ``a good, presentable case.''
In an interview with the Star Tribune, McLeod acknowledged ``naivete'' and poor judgment, but said he never intended to commit a crime.
McLeod's involvement with Krivokrasov puzzled investigators, not only because it potentially violated the law, but also because Krivokrasov was never a Minnesota-Duluth student.
And while the school took no disciplinary action against McLeod, a senior college official ordered a workshop for athletic department personnel about appropriate ways to counsel students.
Krivokrasov's guilty plea in 1993 provided the backdrop for the investigation of McLeod.
In a transcript of one of their conversations, McLeod suggested to Masser, who had a hidden microphone, that he could help her get money from Krivokrasov, especially if the transaction were done privately.
McLeod, 48, was a hockey star at Minnesota-Duluth in the late 1960s and then worked his way up through the athletic department, serving as sports information director, business manager and assistant athletic director before being named athletic director in 1983. He became commissioner of the WCHA, one of the nation's elite college hockey conferences, in 1994.
Masser, 24, no longer attends Minnesota-Duluth and declined to be interviewed for the Star Tribune's story. In a telephone interview from Chicago, Krivokrasov denied knowledge of any plan to pay Masser.
Krivokrasov was 18 when he came to Duluth from Russia in 1992. One of his two agents, Serge Levin, said he was sent to Duluth as a potential college player with a future as a professional.
But McLeod said Krivokrasov was never a college prospect. He said the player lived at the school at his invitation for the summer while waiting for the NHL draft as part of an arrangement among McLeod, Levin and agent Ron Salcer. In return, McLeod explained, the agents agreed to notify the school of eligible college recruits in Europe.
Krivokrasov was drafted by the Blackhawks and signed a contract within a few months of arriving.