NCAA finds only secondary infractions in investigation of Auburn

Updated: September 20, 2008, 6:10 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

AUBURN, Ala. -- The NCAA determined that Auburn did not commit academic fraud in allowing students, including athletes in football and other sports, to take courses that required little or no time in the classroom.

The NCAA's findings, released Friday, stated that Auburn committed only secondary violations involving student-athletes who repeated the courses after completing their eligibility for sports in 2005 and 2006.

The NCAA had investigated claims that a sociology professor was helping football players and other athletes stay eligible through independent study courses, which allow students to avoid classroom time.

The NCAA submitted its findings to Auburn on Aug. 28. Christopher Strobel, the organization's director of enforcement for secondary violations, said in a letter to the school there weren't any issues related to eligibility because all students who repeated classes were no longer eligible.

The Birmingham News, which made a discovery request for the results of the NCAA investigation through the Alabama Open Records Law, first reported the findings on Friday.

"The NCAA reviewed the facts and determined it to be secondary in nature," Auburn athletic director Jay Jacobs said in a statement. "Although this process has been lengthy, Auburn is better as a result of it."

The investigation started after former Auburn sociology professor Jim Gundlach accused then-department chairman Thomas Petee of allowing students, including athletes, to receive grades for little work. The university said that only 18 percent of the students in these courses were athletes, and 7.5 percent were football players.

An internal investigation in 2006 found that the problems were limited to two professors, Petee and Dr. James Witte in adult education, and were the result of insufficient oversight and poor record-keeping.

The university's report said the two professors "had too many students in too many course sections, which led to their inability to accurately keep track of the students." But it did not find that large numbers of athletes were clustered into specific easy courses.

"Athletics Director Jay Jacobs and I take these matters very seriously. We are glad this issue is behind us," Auburn President Jay Gogue told the Birmingham News.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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