Wednesday, December 19, 2007

FSU Cheating Scandal

WOW. That blogation was a lot longer than expected thanks to the end of the semester crunch, and will likely continue as I enter the computer Dark Ages at my father's house for Christmas. The story at FSU does, however, require comment before I make the drive.

The national press, the blogosphere, and the message boards have been buzzing about the cheating scandal at FSU, but there is little solid detail about what actually went on, and the steps which have been taken. Two stories, both out of local press is Florida do, however, have some crucial details:

From Brian Landman at the St. Petersburg Times:

For those involved in this scandal, at least the ones with remaining eligibility, the bowl game likely won't be the only game they miss.

Academic fraud carries the loss of one-year of eligibility, but apparently FSU officials and the NCAA have come up with a penalty that an admitted violator will only have to sit out for 30-percent of his or her season.

For a 12-game football season, that's four games.

That's incidentally how many games senior receiver Joslin Shaw of Plant City sat out before he was reinstated earlier this season. Another player, sophomore defensive end Kevin McNeil, hasn't played at all this season and his status remains unclear. His mother, Patricia, told the Times that her son recently had shoulder surgery and "will be coming back to play" next season.

For months, those were the only two football players identified as being among a group of 23 student-athletes in nine sports who had been involved in the academic misconduct investigation.

School president T.K. Wetherell, on vacation in Montana, declined to comment Tuesday. But previously he told the Times that at the suggestion of the NCAA, FSU expanded the scope of its inquiry, looking at three semesters beginning with the spring 2007 and going backward.

As student athletes were interviewed and reinterviewed, some accompanied by lawyers, a key issue was how fast they completed tests and how well they did on them.

Some apparently breezed through the tests in a matter of minutes with flying colors, which could be verified by when they logged onto the system. That has raised red flags.

The class, believed to be a music class with hundreds of students each semester, also was flawed in that the professor hadn't changed the test for years.

Wetherell said recently that the school has decided that the class will be vacated for the student-athletes, forcing them to re-take the course; the new grade will be substituted for the original one.

It will be interesting to see whether there are any knock on effects on eligibility as a consequence! More details from Scott Carter at the Tampa Tribune:

To help protect against another scandal of this nature, FSU has moved all tests for online classes to a testing center that requires a pass code for students to enter, said FSU Provost Larry Abele, chairman of the university's four-person investigative committee.

Since FSU first launched its probe, several behind-the-scenes athletics department officials have resigned, including Brenda Monk, the academic adviser who allegedly provided test results to student-athletes, along with the two tutors. Monk has turned down multiple interview requests since resigning in July.

Besides Monk leaving her post, three members of outgoing FSU Athletics Director Dave Hart's staff have resigned amid the probe. They are: Senior Associate Athletics Directors Charlie Carr and Pam Overton, and most recently, Kim Record, a senior associate athletics director for women's sports who resigned Monday.

Wetherell is on vacation in Montana and was unavailable for comment on Tuesday. However, at a recent news conference to name Bill Proctor the school's interim athletics director, Wetherell acknowledged the cheating scandal was more widespread than originally thought.

"Clearly, we have some challenges before us with the NCAA," Wetherell said. "We have some issues that we have to explain. And quite frankly, we probably have to apologize to some of our fans and supporters."

The sad truth is that many of them do not care. They do, care, however, about the lackluster performance of the football team in recent years. Wetherell has been slowly cleaning house in the Athletics department, and this will provide him the opportunity to speed that process. Given the scope of the resignations it remains a possibility that FSU will face the hangover of significant sanctions when it is time for the NCAA to come knocking.

1. FSU Cheating Scandal
2. Florida State Scandal: Kudos to President Wetherell
3. STUDENT-Athlete Garrett Johnson Fires Both Barrels
4. No Sunshine in Florida?
5. FSU Scandal: Brenda Monk Breaks Her Silence

No comments: