Auburn Clears Self in Grade Scam Scandal

Auburn has investigated itself and found that it did nothing wrong.

Auburn athletics officials were cleared of wrongdoing by a university probe of claims that athletes improperly boosted their grades with an easy independent study course.

Interim university president Ed Richardson said at a news conference Thursday that an internal investigation determined athletes were not steered to the courses of sociology professor Thomas Petee, who was accused by a colleague of helping football players stay eligible by offering classes that required little work or no work. Petee and another professor, who also gave “directed-reading” courses, have resigned their administrative posts. Both are professors have tenure at Auburn and will continue to be members of the faculty, Richardson said.

Richardson said the probe, launched after sociology professor James Gundlach made the allegations reported in The New York Times last month about Petee’s courses, found it was purely an academic matter. He said 82 percent taking the courses were non-athletes, 18 percent played a sport of some kind and 7.5 percent were football players.

I have respect for Richardson, who was a superb Secretary of Education for the state for many years, but find these findings hard to swallow. The NYT story on this was quite damning and the fact that non-athletes also took the courses hardly matters. Rather clearly, Auburn football players found out about Petee’s “independent study” courses and began flocking to them.

Previously: Auburn Football Players Got Top Grades for Bogus Classes

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James Joyner
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James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. madmatt says:

    Just like the rethugs…investigate yourself, find out you did nothing wrong, and announce it to the world as liberal bias!

  2. dougrc says:

    Uhhh…if the course is offered in the curriculum catalog, then the course requirments had to have passed that department’s curriculum review committee. I can’t see how there was any basis for a complaint if the course was designed to only help athelete’s GPA. Everyone that I’ve ever known that has attended college had the opportunity to take elective classes that were anything but scholastic in nature.

    In a quick examination of their course catalog
    there seem to be independent study courses offered in many fields of study. It seems like the student atheletes may have been caught in the middle of an academic spat between two professors.