Report: Prof thinks Auburn will sweep away allegations

Updated: July 18, 2006, 2:48 AM ET
ESPN.com news services

An Auburn professor won't go down without a fight.

Sociology teacher James Gundlach, the whistle blower who believes that football players were receiving special academic treatment, said Monday that he doesn't have much faith in the university's investigation and won't cooperate.

"I want to expose them as not being interested in the truth."

Auburn professor James Gundlach

After Gundlach talked to The New York Times, the school began looking into the "directed-reading" classes offered by Thomas Petee, interim director of Auburn's sociology department.

"I want to expose them as not being interested in the truth," Gundlach told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution Monday. "I think they are more interested in PR than a real investigation. Maybe by me not cooperating, they'll change the members of the committee."

According to the report in the Times, 18 football players took the courses in 2004-05 to maintain their eligibility. The football players earned an aggregate grade point average of 3.31 in Petee's classes, while scoring 2.14 in their other courses. About 250 students took the classes overall.

"My impression is they want to come up with a finding that he was an easy grader who graded everybody easily and athletes were just graded the same way," Gundlach told the USA Today. "Their focus [when Gundlach met with the committee] was on possible NCAA violations, not academic integrity."

The players took a combined 97 hours of the criminology and sociology courses with Petee during their careers, the Times reported. The Tigers posted a 13-0 record and finished the 2004 season ranked No. 2 nationally.

"If you look at the letter of NCAA rules, Auburn probably hasn't done anything that's sanctionable," Gundlach said to USA Today. "I'm getting hate mail and harassing phone calls, but if I had let Petee keep going, it might have been enough to lead to NCAA sanctions."

Gundlach, 63, told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that he met with the committee four weeks ago and lost faith in their work after he believed a member leaked information that he was bitter about not receiving the chairmanship of the department.

"They asked me if I supported Petee's bid and I said no," he said. "Somehow, that got out as I wanted the position."

According to professor Gregory Kowalski, the AJC reported, Gundlach did not seek the position two years ago.

Auburn interim President Ed Richardson said in a statement Thursday that the university would deal with the issue "directly and openly" and release the investigation's findings.

Two players who took the courses under Petee, tailback Carnell Williams and defensive end Doug Langenfeld, said they did nothing wrong and didn't get special treatment.

Williams took two courses during the spring of his senior year in 2005 while spending much of his time on the road meeting with NFL teams. He had already completed his playing career at the time.

"I didn't do nothing illegal or anything like that," Williams, now a tailback with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, told the Times. "My work was good. It was definitely real work."

Langenfeld was battling to remain academically eligible for Auburn's Sugar Bowl game when he dropped one course and picked up a nine-week criminology class. He said he took the class at the advice of his academic counselor and that it wasn't comprised only of athletes.

"I don't know if any teachers give away free grades," Langenfeld told The Huntsville Times. "If they do, they're not at Auburn."

Gundlach said he found that more than a quarter of the students in Petee's directed-reading classes were athletes.

He also told the Opelika-Auburn News that Petee started doing the directed-reading in small numbers just in criminology courses but the numbers grew and included sociology, which Gundlach teaches.

"I didn't think it was appropriate for him to take over teaching the sociology major entirely on his own in a directed-reading format. It was an insult to me and what I do," Gundlach said.

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