As funerals go, it wasn't too bad. There were tears, expressions of regret, condolence and support, hugs and pats on the back. Wednesday at Weber State University, the school announced self-imposed sanctions for NCAA violations committed by the men's basketball program. There will be, among other things, a reduction in the number of assistant coaches, the number of expense-paid visits by recruits and a 25 percent pay cut for head coach Ron Abegglen.

Now he'll have to get by on only twice what the dean of the math department makes.For Paul H. Thompson, Wednesday's news conference was a college president's nightmare. Presidents spend years building up their school's reputation, knowing full well that one impressive NCAA basketball tournament appearance will afford far more good publicity than the English Department could draw in a lifetime. Unfortunately, so will an NCAA investigation, which is the kind of publicity any school this side of Miami shudders at.

"I'm embarrassed to find that coaches and athletes broke the rules. I want to apologize to the university community at large, because these infractions have hurt the university and damaged our reputation. I'm sorry that this happened," said Thompson.

The move by Weber was a preemptive strike in hopes the NCAA will look kindly on the violations committed by Abegglen and his staff. It is a show of contrition, like whacking yourself in the forehead with the palm of your hand after doing something stupid. History has shown that often the NCAA is more lenient when a school shows sincerity by conducting its own internal investigation and assessing its own penalties.

But for now, the school can only wait. In September the NCAA, which is conducting its own investigation, will announce its sanctions. The options are to either declare Weber's sanctions sufficient or insufficient. Occasionally the NCAA will decide the school's sanctions are too severe.

Of course, deciding who is the bad guy in this scenario isn't easy. It's like deciding between Jimmy Johnson and Jerry Jones. On the one hand, you have the Wildcat basketball program, which by its own admission gave a small amount of cash to a player, arranged for a player to use a credit card number to pay for a correspondence course, and a number of smaller things like Abegglen loaning his pickup truck to a player. While he said he never knowingly broke the rules ("I've never been a coach to say, `Here is a violation, we're gonna go ahead and do it,"' he said), it's hard to believe Abegglen didn't know some of the violations weren't blatant infractions.

On the other hand, you have the NCAA, the official Big Brother of college sports everywhere, growing bigger and more unwieldy every year. It's as lovable as a tarantula. It has a rulebook thicker than the Ogden phone directory. The NCAA bureaucracy is bigger than Switzerland's. With its countless rules and regulations, the NCAA can land on a school for something as simple as giving a recruit a t-shirt or a ride home to his or her apartment. In the eyes of most coaches, it isn't a matter of whether you'll break the rules, it'swhen and how seriously.

"I would not wish an NCAA investigation on anybody," said Abegglen.

To Weber's credit, there was no self-justifying at Wednesday's press conference. The Wildcats broke the rules and were caught, purple-handed. From the administration to the attorneys to Abegglen, all allowed that Weber had been caught cheating. All were restricted from commenting on specific NCAA allegations until the governing body concludes its own investigation.

The news conference wasn't without its dramatic moments. Abegglen choked with emotion several times, showing obvious strain. The administration, understandably, was grim and businesslike. This wasn't your ordinary back-slapping get-together with the press. Then there was the moment when the president of the Wildcat Club took the microphone - which was being used for reporters to ask questions - and proceeded to denounce the Ogden Standard Examiner for its coverage of the investigation. He proclaimed the club's support for Abegglen and Weber athletics, drawing applause from the boosters and school employees in attendance, but probably not from the Standard Examiner, which wasn't being investigated by anyone.

But all in all, Weber State seemed to have pulled it off as well as could be expected. The sanctions were strong enough to show that it was sorry and embarrassed. It had admitted guilt and imposed sanctions. The only thing left now is to wait to see if the NCAA is convinced, as well.