Thursday, December 18, 2003

OSU's inquiry finds no troubles

No preferential treatment given

The Associated Press

COLUMBUS - After an "impeccable" five-month investigation, a committee of Ohio State professors did not find any instance of academic impropriety involving Buckeyes athletes, the school announced Wednesday.

"The most important conclusion, in my mind, is that the university's academic integrity is sound," Ohio State president Karen Holbrook said.

Holbrook formed a 10-person internal faculty committee to review athletes' academic performances after The New York Times reported allegations in July that athletes had received preferential treatment and had cheated in class. In particular, the article said suspended star tailback Maurice Clarett passed a class in 2002 by taking oral exams after he walked out of a midterm and did not take the final.

Clarett subsequently was suspended for the season for accepting improper benefits from a family friend and for lying about it to investigators.

The article quoted Paulette Pierce, an associate professor in Ohio State's African-American and African studies department, who said several football players had told her that tutors sometimes wrote papers for them.

A teaching assistant in the same department, Norma McGill, said athletes sat together in three quizzes and they all got the same grade. She also said football players had forged the names of absent teammates on class attendance sheets.

The committee recommended in its report that teaching assistants receive more instruction and that the office that tutors athletes should add another academic counselor. The tutoring office also will be tied more directly to the university instead of the athletic department.

Athletic director Andy Geiger termed the investigative committee's work as "impeccable."

"The reputation of the university has been affirmed," Geiger said.

The committee - which cost $100,000 - interviewed more than 60 people, but officials would not say who was questioned or what records were reviewed.

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