12.12.06

Auburn’s Unique Defense

Posted in College Spurts, Lower Education at 2:47 am by

You might recall last July, the New York Times’ Pete Thamel was sniffing around allegations that student-athletes at Auburn University were receiving favorable treatment. In the wake of Thamel’s report, the chairman of Auburn’s sociology department was made to resign.

On Sunday, Thamel reported that an internal investigation at Auburn revealed in 2003 a scholarship athlete had his or her grade changed from an incomplete to an A, without the knowledge of that athlete’s professor. Said athlete received an additional 3 A’s, all from the deposed sociology Professor Thomas Peete (above).

In Tuesday’s Times, Auburn officials tell Thamel this should be of no concern to the NCAA. You see, it’s purely a matter of academic fraud.

œThis is not an athletic issue, said the spokesman, Brian Keeter. œThe N.C.A.A. has not requested this report. We™ve provided a previous one to them. If they ask us to do for this, we would. But this is an academic issue.

When asked how an issue involving an athlete™s grade change was not an athletic issue, Keeter said, œThis is not an athletic issue.

The N.C.A.A. president, Myles Brand, said in an interview yesterday that he had read the Times article but could not comment on specifics. He did applaud Auburn for conducting an internal audit, then added: œThe second point is that academic fraud is, if not the worst, one of the worst offenses that an institution can commit. I mean that as a general comment. I won™t comment on any particular institution.

The report that Auburn has already forwarded to the N.C.A.A. reveals that Petee changed 55 grades from January 2003 to the spring of 2006, more than double the amount of the average faculty member in the sociology department. Though much of the information in the report is divided between athletes and nonathletes, the report does not reveal what percentage of grades changed belonged to athletes.

œI™m certain that there is an explanation for that from those that put that report together, Keeter said. œI will have to get in touch with them to have that answer.

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