Scandals are nothing new in college athletics. With great power often times comes great abuse of power, but even cutting corners can be a serious deal with the NCAA — especially when it comes to academic misconduct.
That’s reportedly what the Auburn Tigers are now dealing with, at least according to a recent Outside The Lines report by Mark Schlabach, Tom Junod and Paula Lavigne on ESPN. The four-letter network is reporting that Auburn has actually had to hire a law firm to investigate an allegation that an academic support staffer, who was part-time, took a final exam for at least one football player from the 2015 Tigers.
A source told Outside the Lines that a mentor in Auburn’s student-athlete support services department took an online final exam for at least one football player. The source said a tutor who worked with the mentor became aware of the alleged misconduct while reviewing a football player’s academic records in February, noticing that the player had received a perfect grade on a final exam only a few weeks into the course. The source said the player told the tutor he had not taken the exam.
The report went on to relay the fact that the Outside the Lines source went on to relay the supervisor of the mentor was alerted to the fact that the player had said he didn’t take the exam. It was also allegedly reported to the Auburn compliance director as well as the athletic department human resource department after the source was told her job wouldn’t be renewed this past August.
This is, of course, a huge allegation against both the Auburn football program as well as the student-athlete support services department, so it makes sense that the university is taking extreme measures to get to the truth. The Auburn athletic department confirmed to ESPN that a law firm was hired to investigate the allegation.
Notably, the Tigers’ athletic department released a pretty strong statement condemning the allegations, though, as passed on by ESPN:
“It’s simply not true,” the statement reads. “The person making the accusation is a part-time employee placed on administrative leave on Aug. 31 because of a dispute with a coworker. She is making claims not supported by facts, and based on what ESPN told us, she keeps changing her story. Neither she, her attorney nor our investigation have produced anything to support her claims.”
According to Auburn, the tutor had actually signed bimonthly time sheets (38 in all) that stated she had not witnessed or has heard of a student-athlete “participating in academic dishonesty during her time with the program.
With that said, it’s somewhat hard to trust an athletic program that has recently seen one of its associate coaches arrested by the FBI in a bribery probe centering around recruiting.