The long and short of it...the Auburn Athletic Department was driving student-athletes such as Cadillac Williams and 17 other football players towards independent study classes lead by one professor, Thomas Petee. That professor was a one man eligibility army keeping players academically alive for the undefeated 2004 season.
This should shock no one. It is Auburn after all. The issue of whether or not Auburn will get in trouble seems to boil down to 3 key things:
- 1. Will any player involved come out and say, "I didn't do the work." The difference between academic fraud like HarrickGate vs. TutorGate at UT is PROOF that the work wasn't done by the kids. The NCAA had proof that the Harricks didn't require the players to attend the class. The NCAA didn't have that proof in the UT case. Just remember, in the UGA case we were talking about a mickey mouse PE course. Not a core classes like Statistics or Criminology which are part of this story.
2. WHY was a professor working the job of 3.6 other professors just so that he could give away grades like candy. What was his financial motivation for doing so? Answer this question, and EVERYTHING else will fall into place.
3. The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools placed Auburn on probation because of accrediation problems in 2003. They may ask questions of Auburn related to the academic integrity issues.
So basically, this professor was offering 15 different classes to players who needed to stay eligible. Including one "class" in which the kid had to write a 10 page book report, and he got 3 credit hours. A book he couldn't remember reading.
For Some Athletes, Courses With No Classes
One of the university’s prominent football players was being honored as a scholar athlete [during a game] for his work as a sociology major. Professor Gundlach, the director of the Auburn sociology department, had never had the player in class. He asked the two other full-time sociology professors about the player, and they could not recall having had him either.
A number of athletes took more than one class with Professor Petee over their careers: one athlete took seven such courses, three athletes took six, five took five and eight took four, according to records compiled by Professor Gundlach.
The sociology department became “a dumping ground for athletes,” according to one sociology professor, Paul Starr.
“It was at that point that I figured the corruption runs the full gantlet of the administration,” Professor Gundlach said. “We were getting sociology majors graduating without taking sociology classes. I’m a director of a program putting out people who I know more than likely don’t deserve a degree.”
The 18 football players received an average G.P.A. of 3.31 in the classes, according to statistics compiled by Professor Gundlach. In all of their other credit hours at Auburn, their average was 2.14.
Professor Petee offered 15 different courses as directed readings both semesters, along with teaching regular courses. His full-time-equivalent number on his teaching schedule for the fall of 2004 was 3.5, or the workload of three and a half professors. In the spring, it rose to 3.67.
“Things have reached a point where we’re getting ready to produce more James Brooks incidents,” Professor Gundlach said. “It’s embarrassing.”
The entire thing is shady, it's like something Georgia Tech would pull.
Although, my favorite part of the story...Auburn promoted the guy giving out bogus grades. Stay Classy Plainsmen.
I'll link to other articles tomorrow as they come online:
The AJC's article
The Birmingham News article
Paul Finebaum's article