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Sunday, January 21, 2018

Syracuse basketball director posed as athletes in sending emails to professors

Jim-Boeheim-gun-controlSyracuse was penalized by the NCAA Friday for violations committed over the past decade, mostly involving the basketball program but also including the football team. The violations appear to be of the standard variety on the surface — boosters paying players, ignoring the school’s drug policy, academic fraud — but some of what was going on is much worse than you would imagine.

In the NCAA’s public infractions report, we learn that some basketball program employees got the players’ email account passwords and posed as the athletes in emails sent to professors.

From the report:

Accessing student-athletes’ accounts, however, was not limited to monitoring academic progress. Rather, access was a piece of a larger effort led by the director of basketball operations to manage student-athletes’ academics. Institutional staff members, including the director of basketball operations and student-athlete support services staff developed student-athletes’ academic plans, tracked course responsibilities and scheduling as well as incoming communications from professors regarding course work and class status.

As part of this practice, the director of basketball operations and student-athlete support services employees accessed and sent emails from student-athletes’ accounts and corresponded directly with professors. Numerous emails included attached academic coursework, which was necessary to maintain the required grades for student-athletes to
remain eligible. Recipients of the emails included student-athletes and the director of basketball operations. There is no indication that the director of basketball operations questioned or reported concerns. To the contrary, the email and related data suggest the common practice of the director of basketball operations monitoring, identifying and then remedying academic concerns through email correspondence, which purportedly was being sent directly by the student-athletes to their professors.

The levels of academic fraud were much greater than that. The NCAA discovered multiple examples of tutors or other assistants doing work for the players. The NCAA determined that head coach Jim Boeheim did not “promote an atmosphere of compliance” within the program and did not properly monitor those working with the program.

Here are a few more examples from the NCAA summary on the penalties:

– A booster paid $8,000 in cash to three football players and two basketball players for work done at a YMCA

– Director of basketball operations and a men’s basketball receptionist did work for a basketball player to get him reinstated academically

– From 2010 through 2012, a support services mentor, who would later become the receptionist involved in the 2012 academic misconduct, and a support services tutor provided impermissible academic assistance to three men’s basketball students. The mentor and tutor made revisions, created or wrote assignments for the basketball students.

Among the penalties Syracuse received were a loss of 12 scholarships, vacating wins from five seasons, Jim Boeheim not being allowed to coach nine conference games next season and probation for five seasons.

If these are the penalties Syracuse received, we can only imagine how bad things will be for North Carolina, where the academic misconduct was found to be much worse.

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