Friday, July 14, 2006

Friday's Hearsay and Conjecture: SEC Bashing Edition

Athletes Getting Preferential Treatment? I'm Shocked, I Tell You! Shocked!

This is bound to bring a smile to Kyle's face. The New York Times is reporting that several members of Auburn's undefeated 2004 football team skirted or ignored NCAA academic rules and were given passing grades in classes they rarely if ever attended. One of those members featured prominently in the article is everyone's favorite Escalade, Cadillac Williams. The Time's article reports that the Auburn sociology department's highest ranking member and interim chairman, Prof. Thomas Petee, had been directing self-study and directed-reading courses for individual athletes that required little if any attendance or work. These classes not only helped some of them graduate, but kept many of the athletes taking his classes academically eligible within NCAA requirements.

Of the 2004 undefeated Auburn team one athlete took seven of Petee's courses, three athletes took six, five took five and eight took four. One of them was even given an academic award for his work in the department, even though Petee was the only member of the department who had even seen him inside the department walls.

To give you an idea of what was going on, a normal direct reading class requires 6-7 upper level books at semester and 10-12 page papers on each for three credit hours. That's a good 60-80 pages of reading for each professor, per student.

While its not uncommon for a professor to offer 5-6 or up to 10 of these individual directed reading classes, Petee at his height was offering 152! As for the reading/writing requirements of Petee's classes, well, no so much. At least one of the classes consisted of reading a single book and writing a ten-page paper. The class was worth three credit hours. No word if it had to be typewritten, but I'm sure it would have been accepted in either ink, pencil or crayon.

Multiplying that out, the one athlete above could have received 21 credit hours towards graduation for reading seven books, (maybe) writing 70 pages, and never attending class. An undergraduate degree at Auburn requires a minimum of 120 credit hours. The 21 credit hours that athlete received amounted to roughly 17.5% of his graduation requirements.

Man, did I miss the boat on that one. If I could've done that there's no way in hell I would've taken "Greek and Roman Wars" at 8:30 in morning. On the plus side, I do know what a phalanx is should I ever be on Jeopardy. In all fairness, it wasn't just athletes taking Peete's "classes". However, the Times reports that athletes made up at least 25% of Peete's directed reading class enrollment.

Academic fraud is nothing new to college football. Especially not at Auburn. Auburn sits alone at the top of the SEC's Most Sanctioned List. But its not as though the practice of grade inflation is unique to them.

It was however blatant enough to have a member of Sociology department turn Petee in to the Provost. While the Times doesn't say it, it appears that when the University failed to do anything about his complaints, the whistle blower turned his evidence over to the New York Times. You think he was upset about it?

On the other side of the argument, several auburn bloggers and supporters have pointed to professional jealousy as a the reason for this blow-up. Citing a Huntsville Times article, they point out that Gundlach was passed over for the position Petee currently holds and that Gundlach has admitted some resentment over the snub.

Whether or not that is the reason for his coming forward is a definite question for his motives. However, the evidence he has collected is not flattering. There are two likely answers. First, Gundlach was passed over and blew this story out of proportion as a means at getting back at those who overlooked him. Second, he legitimately saw something wrong, reported it, and then took matters into his own hands when nothing was done. Neither are particularly rosey pictures of academic life at Auburn. Gundlach's motives may not be a pure as he leads on. Even so he has presented a serious and apparently substantiated claim of academic malfecence that must be investigated not only by Aurburn but the NCAA.

Auburn has announced an investigation, and I'm sure the NCAA will begin flapping its gums soon enough on the subject as well. What is most entertaining about the whole thing is that Prof. Petee, though the center of this shit storm, has not been removed from his position of CHAIRMAN of the Sociology Department! Ain't college football grand? The whistle blower, Professor James Gundlach, has announced his retirement next year in part, I'm sure, in protest.

We now await Myles Brand to come down from Valhalla, wielding Thor's hammer, and smash the evil-doers.

Only kidding. Auburn's safe from NCAA sanctions. They don't have an indian/native american/indigenous person as their mascot.

EDSBS has more on this than I could ever hope to provide.

"Cutting" Through Vanderbilt And The Rest of The Schedule

I posted my first of 13 season preview reports yesterday, with Vanderbilt being both first on our schedule and first on my list. Central Michigan will be up on Monday followed by Notre Dame later in the week. The final installment will be a Michigan preview, a couple of days before the season opens.

In looking at the reactions to my preview, I have to say Vanderbilt fans take the jokes and the assessments far better than some of their SEC brethren (*cough* Mississippi State *cough*). A tip of the cap to all the Vanderbilt visitors to Maize n Brew. Look forward to playing you guys on September 2nd.

Little inside tip for you, Mr. Spot's hoagies. A must while in Ann Arbor. Wash 'em down with a Pizza Bob's milk shake (chocolate mint was always my favorite) and you'll be a happy camper.

That's what I do here folks. I give.

Bring Me a Cup of Hot Fat and the Head of Alfredo Garcia

"I have nothing but contempt for Materazzi and, if what he said is true, then I want his balls on a platter." - Malika Zidane, mother of Zinedine Zidane (HT: Deadspin)

Brian's got more hilarity on this. I am now convinced all disputes should be settled via headbutt. Contract Negotiations? Headbutt. Civil Disputes? Headbutt. Dinner? Headbutt. War? Line up 100,000 troops, no helmets, Headbutt. The side with the most people left standing wins. The loser forfeits territory and its populous must be forced to wear protective headgear for a period of ten years so that the world knows their poor wittle heads are softer than a baby's bottom. Time to get another Geneva Convention going on this.

The downside to this is Scotland would rule the world.

Michigan Gets Another 2007 Football Recruit

Stolen out from under the PAC-10, Mgoblog presents 3/4 star recruit Steve Watson. He's good.

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