News from the Tennessee Valley Sports

Auburn president: School will take action
Grades changed for students, including some athletes

AUBURN (AP) — Auburn University President Ed Richardson said an internal investigation determined that a faculty member changed students’ grades, including those of some athletes, during 2002-04.

Richardson said in a statement Wednesday that Auburn will work with the Office of the Provost to determine “the appropriate corrective steps” against the professor. He didn’t identify the professor or provide any details on how many grades were changed.

He said the university would take “quick and decisive action” on the matter.

A university spokesman said Auburn could not release the professor’s name because it is a personnel matter. The grade changes involved only a small number of students, and few of them were athletes, according to the spokesman.

None of the grade changes in the latest probe involved football players, the spokesman said Wednesday.

The New York Times has reported that at least one grade change at Auburn involved a student-athlete who was able to maintain eligibility when his grade in a directed-reading course was changed from incomplete to an “A” in 2003.

The change was made without the professor’s knowledge, the newspaper said.

Richardson said Wednesday the university has fixed the process that allowed the grade changes to be made. He said Auburn will supply the NCAA with information “related to any issue involving student-athletes.”

“We are committed to an academic program that plays by the rules,” Richardson said.

Last month Richardson said irregularities in Auburn University’s independent studies program were limited to two professors and were the result of insufficient oversight and poor record-keeping.

That internal investigation by a committee of academic administrators came after the New York newspaper’s report that a sociology professor was helping football players and other athletes stay eligible through one-on-one courses, often called “directed reading” that do not require time in a classroom.

Richardson said the investigation found the independent study problems were limited to that sociology professor, Thomas Petee, and another in adult education, James Witte.

Petee resigned as chairman of the sociology department and Witte stepped down as program chair of adult education.

The Times had reported that 18 members of the undefeated 2004 Auburn football team took a combined 97 hours of Petee’s courses during their careers.

The list of Auburn players included star running back Carnell “Cadillac” Williams, who now plays for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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