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NCAA report on academic scandal mirrors FSU's

Florida State said there is no evidence Bobby Bowden or other coaches knew about athletes receiving answers to tests for an online course as well as help on term papers.

SCOTT KEELER | Times (2007)

Florida State said there is no evidence Bobby Bowden or other coaches knew about athletes receiving answers to tests for an online course as well as help on term papers.

TALLAHASSEE — The NCAA alleged Florida State violated major rules, including failing to monitor three former employees that led to a massive academic misconduct scandal.

But FSU officials, in releasing a redacted and modified version of its 87-page answer to allegations it received in June, said there was little unexpected or substantively different from what it self-reported in February.

The scandal, which surfaced in March 2007, involves 61 athletes in 10 sports, most receiving answers to tests for an online music course.

"We are pleased that the NCAA found no new allegations after completing its on-campus investigation,'' FSU president T.K. Wetherell said in a statement released Friday. "We believe that ours was a thorough and exhaustive inquiry, including extensive examinations of computer records and files to search for any evidence of impropriety regarding NCAA or university rules.''

The school reiterated, "There is no evidence that the university coaches were involved in any aspect of the NCAA violations."

That's why the bulk of FSU's response focused on the details of what happened and its corrective and self-imposed sanctions. For instance, the school for the first time publicly disclosed the number of scholarships it cut for each sport.

For football, it's five, two this season and three the next. That's based on a formula that divides the number of players involved in the misconduct (25) by the number of players on the roster (132), multiplying that by the number of scholarships allowed (85) and multiplying that by 30 percent, the loss of one's season the NCAA and FSU used to punish players. That was four games for football.

None of the other teams — men's and women's basketball, baseball, softball, men's outdoor and women's indoor and outdoor track, men's and women's swimming and men's golf, lost more than one scholarship.

FSU, which could face more sanctions, perhaps forfeiting games or vacating NCAA championship berths from spring 2007, is scheduled for a hearing before the Division I Committee on Infractions on Oct. 18 in Indianapolis. It could be December before FSU learns if there will be additional punishment.

The alleged major violations center on:

• Brenda Monk, a Ph.D. and learning specialist/assistant director for educational services, typed and edited term papers between 2004-05 and 2006-07 for some players and helped at least six others with the online test; mostly with a study guide of past test questions and answers. Neither she nor her attorney, Brant Hargrove, could be reached for comment.

Despite several other advisers voicing concerns about what she was doing, FSU said then-director of the academic advising office, Mark Meleney, didn't do enough to monitor what was going on. Meleney lost his job.

"As one reviews the facts of this case, it is difficult to understand the human dynamics that okayed a significant role in the actions of Brenda Monk," Meleney wrote in a Nov. 1 letter that's part of FSU's response.

• An unnamed tutor (a graduate student at the time) provided test answers or help for 54 athletes during 2006-07. He resigned in the summer of 2007.

• Hillard Goldsmith III, an academic adviser previously not named but long-suspected by FSU officials of wrongdoing, told the tutor to provide test answers and instructed at least six athletes to take tests when he knew the tutor would be present.

FSU said in its answer that it "is reasonable to conclude" Goldsmith sent players to the computer lab or tutorial rooms when the tutor would be there and he knew the tutor would give them answers, but it "believes insufficient information exists to determine" that Goldsmith told the tutor to give out answers. The tutor is the source of that charge.

Goldsmith, who resigned and has worked for the state Department of Education since May 2007, didn't return calls. He also has refused requests from FSU and the NCAA to be interviewed.

The NCAA said it is "most interested" in hearing from Wetherell and requested, at a minimum, he be joined by new athletic director Randy Spetman; faculty representative Joseph Beckham; Brian Battle, the associate athletic director for compliance; and Meleney. It also has told Monk, Goldsmith and the tutor they can appear.

NCAA report on academic scandal mirrors FSU's 09/12/08 [Last modified: Monday, September 15, 2008 3:35pm]
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