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Report: Illini offered Ellis money to play

A former Notre Dame student contends LaPhonso Ellis told him the University of Illinois offered him $5,000 before he signed with the Fighting Irish, according to a report published Thursday. The Chicago Tribune reported that Patrick Walsh, a 1989 Notre Dame graduate, told the NCAA last week the basketball star told him about the offer nine months before the start of the probe of Illinois' recruiting practices.

Ellis has refused to comment publicly on his role in the NCAA investigation of Illinois.

Walsh said he asked Ellis on campus in September 1988 if he had ever been offered any inducements to attend a particular university, the Tribune reported.

"Yeah, Illinois did," Walsh quoted Ellis as saying. "They offered $5,000 a year."

Last week, the NCAA accused Illinois of offering Ellis $5,000 to enroll and $5,000 for each year he remained there. It is one of 11 NCAA charges against the school.

The Tribune reported that Walsh contacted the NCAA and the newspaper because he said he was concerned about the negative way in which Ellis was portrayed by some reporters.

"All I'm saying is that what he told me over a year ago is consistent with what is coming out now," Walsh was quoted as saying.

David Berst, the NCAA's associate executive director for enforcement, declined to comment on Walsh's report.