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Wednesday, April 5, 2006 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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WSU rebukes baseball coach for résumé lies

Seattle Times staff reporter

Washington State University has formally reprimanded head baseball coach Donnie Marbut for lying about his academic credentials and has put him on notice that administrators will not tolerate any future misconduct.

The action, announced Tuesday, came two weeks after a Seattle Times investigation revealed Marbut had repeatedly misrepresented his academic credentials on résumés and other documents. The bogus claims were repeated while he was a coach and athletic director at Edmonds Community College and an assistant and head coach at WSU.

Marbut's athletic accomplishments also were exaggerated in media guides and on school Web sites.

Now in his second year as head coach in Pullman, Marbut was brought in to rebuild a baseball program that had dominated its division a decade earlier but had finished last in the Pac-10 the previous five years.

Immediately after The Times story, WSU Athletic Director Jim Sterk stated there was "no evidence of wrongdoing" on Marbut's part.

Tuesday, the school said Sterk had reviewed the allegations of academic misrepresentation and "determined that this charge has merit."

"Any misrepresentation of academic credentials is a serious matter, especially in an academic institution," Sterk said in a news release. "While Coach Marbut contends that the errors on these forms were unintentional, that does not constitute a defense in my opinion. I have made it clear to him that this is not acceptable.

"Our coaches must set the highest example for all of our students. I will expect Coach Marbut to comply with this standard in all of his conduct as long as he is associated with the baseball program at Washington State University."

The news release left the door open for additional actions against Marbut, who makes $77,000 a year.

Sterk acknowledged the state Ethics Board is determining whether it will take up findings from a state audit released last fall.

The audit faulted the Edmonds Community College athletic department, run by Marbut at the time, for poor recordkeeping and financial oversight.

And it concluded that Marbut had profited by using college facilities to run a private baseball camp, a violation of state law.

Sterk said WSU will determine whether to act on any findings once the Ethics Board has completed its review.

Telephone messages left for Marbut were not returned. His team played Gonzaga University last night in Pullman.

WSU Sports Information Director Rod Commons said a copy of the reprimand letter was not available.

The Times investigation revealed that Marbut, 32, had claimed at various times to have either a master's degree or a teaching certificate from St. Martin's College in Lacey, Thurston County.

Marbut was enrolled in the program in 1998 but never completed it, according to St. Martin's officials.

The coach blamed some of the falsehoods on errors by others and claimed he simply had made honest mistakes in filling out forms.

"It never has been my intent to deceive others," he stated in a news release issued after the story was published.

The Times investigation showed that nine records wrongly state that Marbut earned a teaching certificate, a master's degree or a graduate degree from St. Martin's. In five of those records, the false claims appeared on documents that Marbut either filled out himself or created.

They included handwritten job applications submitted to Edmonds Community College between 1999 and 2001 and a résumé he submitted to WSU when he applied for a job as assistant baseball coach in 2003.

The release Tuesday did not address Marbut's false athletic claims, which were posted on the WSU athletic Web site and in its staff directory and media guides for 2004 and 2005.

Similar exaggerations appeared in team biographies at Edmonds Community College while Marbut was there from 1999 to 2003.

Marbut claimed to have been the 1996 most valuable player on Portland State University's baseball team and said he was named most inspirational player in 1997. Marbut also said he was named an all-PAC-10 North Division infielder in 1996. None of those claims is true.

Tuesday's news release also did not address documents uncovered by The Times that showed Marbut submitted a purchase order to Edmonds Community College for more than $1,500 for "sports bags" from a California protein-powder company in fall 2002.

The invoice, located through a public-disclosure request, was submitted three months after school officials warned him that providing protein powder to students was inappropriate.

The owner of the company said it has never sold sports bags.

Mike Carter: 206-464-3706 or mcarter@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2006 The Seattle Times Company

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