Dana Richardson, the former University of Washington compliance director, took the witness stand Thursday morning.

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KENT – Dana Richardson, the former University of Washington compliance director who authored an erroneous e-mail that is seen as a pivotal issue in the dual trials of Rick Neuheisel against the UW and NCAA, took the witness stand Thursday morning to explain the origin of the e-mail.

Before Richardson took the stand, came testimony from Rob Aronson, former UW faculty athletic representative, who was also a sounding board for compliance matters at the UW.

In 1999, Richardson, as compliance coordinator at the UW, said she was interested in producing an interpretation on the propriety of pools on the NCAA tournament because of their popularity. She said she studied NCAA bylaw 10.3 regarding gambling, leading her to conclude that UW athletic-department staff members could participate in pools outside the department.

Richardson said she asked for corroborating opinion from Aronson and then-compliance chief Ralph Bayard. When she received none, she sent out the e-mail. It was again sent out in 2003. The e-mail is a primary point of defense by lawyers for Neuheisel, the ex-UW football coach, for why he took part in high-stakes NCAA basketball pools in 2002 and 2003.

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Early in her testimony, Richardson was asked to explain what an NCAA “bracket” is to the jury. She drew a mock grid on an easel.

Richardson characterized the general-compliance “mantra” in the athletic department as one of “ask the question” for coaches or athletes who might wonder whether certain acts were permissible.

Aronson was quizzed by Neuheisel’s lead attorney, Bob Sulkin, who pounded on whether Aronson expressed concern about Neuheisel initially denying participating in a pool to NCAA investigators in the days immediately after the coach was questioned. Sulkin tried to establish that Aronson was more concerned with Richardson’s memo and how it might exonerate Neuheisel than the dishonesty that the UW contends was the primary reason for Neuheisel’s dismissal.