Ohio State search can#039;t find any academic fraud

Published 12:00 am Thursday, December 18, 2003

COLUMBUS - After five months, 60 interviews and a $100,000 search, a committee of Ohio State professors said they couldn't find evidence that any Buckeyes athletes had received preferential academic treatment.

''We did not find a single case of inappropriate tutorial assistance by (Ohio State) employees with student-athletes,'' chemistry professor Matthew Platz, chairman of the committee, said Wednesday.

The 10-person internal faculty committee was created 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.

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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 was subsequently suspended for accepting improper benefits from a family friend and for lying about it to investigators - all matters unrelated to the academic investigation.

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.

She submitted an oral exam to Clarett after he had walked out of the midterm.

''He looked at it and didn't know a thing,'' Pierce said then.

A teaching assistant in the same department, Norma McGill, who was cited anonymously in the article, told The Associated Press that 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.

A reporter asked Ohio State Provost Barbara Snyder, a member of the committee, if the results meant that all of the university professors and teaching assistants in the article were either lying or misinformed about wrongdoings.

''The report speaks for itself,'' Snyder said. ''You have a copy.''

Ohio State President Karen Holbrook said the committee had cleared the university's good name.

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

A substantial portion of the committee's 31-page report was blacked out to protect the privacy of athletes, Snyder said. Under the heading of ''Results of the Investigation,'' more than seven pages of the nine-page response was almost entirely blotted out with black ink.

Platz said the NCAA also reviewed the committee's report and indicated it will not take action.