Friday, July 14, 2006

That's OK, You Don't Need to Come to Class

The NY Times is reporting that (gasp) athletes at Auburn University have been getting great grades without having to go to class.

One of the university’s prominent football players was being honored as a scholar athlete 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 two other full-time sociology professors about the player, and they could not recall having taught him, either.

So Professor Gundlach looked at the player’s academic files, which led him to the discovery that many Auburn athletes were receiving high grades from the same professor for sociology and criminology courses that required no attendance and little work.

. . .

The availability of better grades for some athletes who did not attend class did not surprise professors who said Auburn sometimes emphasizes athletics at any cost. In December 2003, the university was placed on probation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools partly because of concerns about whether trustees had too much involvement in the athletic department.

. . .

Professor Gundlach took the case to John Heilman, a university administrator who would soon become Auburn’s provost. He included paperwork showing that Professor Petee taught more than 250 students individually during the 2004-5 academic year. He also provided Mr. Heilman with examples of how prominent athletes had cut academic corners.

“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.”

It reads like something from Tom Wolfe's I Am Charlotte Simmons. I've been oblivious to this sort of thing, since I'm not a sports fan. There was a similar scandal at the University of Georgia around the time I had a temporary position there in 1985. (Oh my! That's over 20 years ago. Some of the students I taught then could have kids going to college soon. I really am middle-aged. No! No!)

This one problem we don't have at private liberal-arts colleges like DePauw, where I teach. We are in a division (III? IV? XXIX?) where we don't give athletic scholarships and the football players and even the cello students can read and write.

The violists, well, I'm not sure about them. (Ouch! Just kidding.)

3 comments:

Scott Spiegelberg said...

I'm telling Nicole!

Scott Spiegelberg said...

And then I'll explain it to her slowly.

Anonymous said...

So how does one explain (away)this Dec05 article from the Dallas News???

http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/dws/spt/colleges/cottonbowl/stories/010106dnspobamasider.2d1ca13.html

"Peprah earns 2nd degree

10:11 PM CST on Saturday, December 31, 2005
By JEFF MILLER / The Dallas Morning News


Plano East's Charlie Peprah is one of 14 Alabama players who already have earned bachelor's degrees.

Peprah graduated last December but waited until May to go through the ceremony to make it easier for family members to attend and to avoid conflicting with last year's bowl preparations. And, only a few weeks ago, he earned his master's degree in financial planning.


Jan. 2, 10 a.m.
FOX (Ch. 4)

Plano's Peprah finds common ground with Alabama teammate

Versatility makes Tech's Henderson perfect fit for NFL

Peprah earns 2nd degree

Notebook

Events schedule

Bowl results/schedule

Rose Bowl section

More Cotton Bowl

More Colleges
JB Closner from San Antonio Clark is one of seven Tide players who graduated in May. Southeastern Conference rules require players to pass six hours to be eligible to play in a bowl, and Closner said he found an independent study class worth six hours' credit.

"Like a diamond in the rough," he said of the class, smiling. "Had to write a five-page paper. I was done with that by September."

Quarterback Brodie Croyle, another graduate, took the same course. "I kind of slacked up a little bit," he said, looking at the ground. "I got done in December."

Said Peprah: "I actually had some pretty tough classes. Not P.E. or music, the art of cartwheels or whatever classes they were taking."

When Croyle was asked who had it tougher, himself or USC quarterback Matt Leinart (who took only ballroom dancing last semester), he said, "Probably him."
(Written by Jeff Miller of the Dallas News)
E-mail jmiller@dallasnews.com

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Thanks

Curious in Alabama