MANILA, APRIL 22, 2006 (STAR) By Joey Villar - The UAAP yesterday suspended De La Salle in all sports in the upcoming season, ending a long-drawn-out investigation on the eligibility case ó the biggest controversy that had hit the school and the league in years.

"Itís a one-year suspension," said UAAP board chair Fr. Max Rendon, CM, of Adamson after emerging from a grueling seven-hour meeting at the Adamson campus.

The league cited negligence as the main reason for the suspension.

La Salle officials are expected to meet over the weekend to plan on what step to take.

In a statement, the board maintained that La Salle violated existing UAAP rules and regulations when it submitted the documents of Mark Benitez and Tim Gatchalian during the 2003-2004 season which proved to be spurious.

"It has always been a rule that each member university has the responsibility to ensure that the eligibility documents are to be authenticated and or verified prior to or at the time of the submission, as it is even required to bear the signature of its Board Representative and Registrar," said the UAAP board in a statement.

"(The) DLSU knew or ought to have known about the matter at the time that these documents were presented for eligibility purposes to the UAAP.

"Having received official verification as early as Aug. 18, 2005, no action was taken by De La Salle until after more than a month later when it came out publicly and began investigating the matter," it added.

Sources said the board voted twice via secret balloting with La Salle barred from participating. The board voted unanimously for suspension, rejecting possible sanctions like expulsion and non-suspension in the first voting.

The board then voted 5-2 in favor of a one-year suspension. The other two batted for a two-year suspension.

Rendon explained that La Salle could appeal the decision but reports indicated that the verdict, which was based on the findings gathered by the five-man ad-hoc committee chaired by Fr. Ermito de Sagon, OP, of Santo Tomas, was final.

The other members of the committee are Ric Matibag of Adamson, Arlene Royo of National U, Josie de Leon of Far Eastern U and league counsel Rene Maria Villa.

"Thatís in our by-laws, we have to listen to their appeal should they appeal it," said the league insider. "But they should prove or disprove the charges against them and defend well."

"The ball is now on their court," added the same source.

La Salle board representative Lito Tanjuatco, who attended the meeting along with Danny Jose, said they will still have to report to the schoolís board of trustees first before making their next move.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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