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Twenty-three FSU athletes accused of cheating on Internet exams

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Two athletic department academic
assistance employees have resigned and 23 Florida State University
athletes were implicated in cheating on tests given over the
Internet, school officials said Wednesday.

The athletes represent nine sports and 17 of the students are or
have been on scholarship. Officials could not identify the students
and could not say which sports are involved because of federal
confidentiality restrictions.

University President T.K. Wetherell reported the findings in a
letter to the NCAA. He indicated inquires are continuing although
an internal investigation failed to find conclusive evidence of a
more widespread pattern of cheating.

The students could face punishment from the university and NCAA
including loss of eligibility. The NCAA also could sanction the
university, but spokesman Erik Christianson said it would be
speculative and declined comment.

"I think the school took appropriate action," said Jim Smith,
chairman of the university's board of trustees and a former Florida
attorney general. "It's unfortunate something like this could
happen."

Wetherell ordered an investigation by the university's Office of
Audit Services in May after receiving information an athletics
department learning specialist had directed one athlete to take an
online quiz for another and then provided the answers.

The student who took the test was not enrolled in the class and
reported what happened to his athletics academic advisor. Neither
he nor the other athlete, who had been unaware someone else took
the test for him, were disciplined, the report said.

The investigation then found the learning specialist also typed
papers for five students who apparently didn't qualify for that
service and a tutor provided answers or other unethical assistance
to 23 students for online tests. The testing involved a single
course, which was not identified.

"Some students from the 2007 semester indicated that it was
common knowledge among the student athletes that the tutor would
help with the exams in the class," the report said.

The learning specialist and tutor resigned. They are not named
in the report.

The tutor confirmed in an interview with the school's auditors
that he had been assisting students with answers for the online
exams since the fall of 2006, according to the report.

"Student testimony as well as the students' grades indicated
the amount of assistance the tutor provided escalated from fall
2006 through his resignation during the summer semester 2007," the
report stated.

The auditors also found the learning specialist had failed to
direct athletes with disabilities to Florida State's Student
Disability Resource Center where they could have received
legitimate assistance.

The NCAA is also awaiting more details.

"We are aware of the situation and we will work with the
institution when more information is submitted to our office,"
Christianson said.