FSU president: Lack of oversight led to cheating scandal

Updated: December 21, 2007, 3:51 PM ET
Associated Press

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Florida State's president attributed an academic cheating scandal to a lack of oversight by athletic department officials, an inattentive faculty member and a rogue tutor.

T.K. Wetherell on Friday described the course in question, a three-hour music history class, as "contaminated" and said changes have been made.

Although Wetherell has said in the past that the recent resignation of athletic director David Hart Jr. was not related to the incident, his statement suggested otherwise.

"The violations focused on a poorly structured online course, lack of attention to detail by a faculty member, and insufficient oversight by the athletic department of one rogue tutor -- all coming together to result in a 'contaminated' class," Wetherell said in the statement.

Hart did not immediately return a phone message seeking comment on Wetherell's criticism of his former department.

Wetherell, who has been vacationing in Montana since the suspensions were announced Tuesday, said no coaches were involved and that many of the athletes simply used poor judgment.

"The student-athletes, who come from a number of sports, did not enroll in the course with the intent to do anything wrong," he said. "However, a university-employed tutor provided inappropriate help on exams. In the final analysis, these students made the decision to use the answers provided for an online exam, and they are suffering the consequences."

The school has suspended roughly two dozen football players, including some starters, for its Dec. 31 game against Kentucky in the Gaylord Hotels Music City Bowl at Nashville, Tenn. Two players, receiver Joslin Shaw and defensive end Kevin McNeil, were suspended during the season.

The players who won't travel to the bowl game will be identified Saturday when the school announces its travel list.

"Our university found this problem," coach Bobby Bowden said after Friday's practice. "It's not like I had anything to do with this."

However, the St. Petersburg Times editorialized Friday that "it's time for Bowden to retire." The paper praised his accomplishments, but said the coach was "padding the career victory total at the expense of a remarkable legacy and a dignified exit. "

"It needs to be said with admiration and firmness," the Times wrote. "Dadgummit, Bobby, it's time."

Bowden disagreed.

"It ain't time to cut and run," he said. "It won't erase what has happened."

This is the school's second serious brush with the NCAA in as many decades. The university received a five-year probation in 1994 after several of its players received free shoes and athletic gear from a sporting goods store at a mall.

Wetherell, who played football for the Seminoles in the mid-1960s, is trying to keep the school from having the NCAA investigate lack of institutional control, a violation that often leads to severe sanctions. Wetherell said the school expects to have its report to NCAA officials early next year.

The NCAA wouldn't comment Friday on Florida State's investigation because it hadn't received the school's final report.

"Each case is different and each case is looked at and acted on a timeline based on its complexity and whatever else is involved," NCAA spokesman Bob Williams said.


Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press

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