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Quick Takes: Call for Athletic Reform, Auburn Tightens Rules, Missouri Limits Coaches' Contracts, Southern Illinois Defends Leaders, Michigan State Eliminates Loans for Neediest, NCAA Clears Military School

July 24, 2006
  • The Coalition on Intercollegiate Athletics, an alliance of Division I-A faculty senates, has called for National Collegiate Athletic Association policy changes -- focused on providing more data on athletes' academic work -- in response to questions of athlete favoritism at Auburn University.  Officials with the organization fear that recent academic reforms by the NCAA create incentives for academic fraud. The rules punish institutions competitively and financially if their athletes don't continue to move toward a degree, and may ratchet up the pressure to get athletes into majors that they can be counted on to succeed. "Faculties can only determine whether academic abuse connected with athletics exists on their campuses if their governance bodies are provided data concerning athlete enrollment and grading patterns," according to a news release issued Friday by the coalition.
  • Ed Richardson, interim president of Auburn, on Friday announced that the university would develop new rules for independent study courses. The move follows a report in The New York Times that many Auburn athletes and other students earned significant increases in their grade-point averages by taking "directed studies" with the same professor. Richardson added that if "any academic misconduct is confirmed, we will take appropriate action."
  • The University of Missouri Board of Curators approved rules Friday that would generally bar coaches from receiving contracts that are longer than five years, the Associated Press reported. The rules come amid criticism of recent buyouts or buyout provisions in several coaches' contracts.
  • Elizabethtown College placed the chair of its religious studies department on leave Friday after he was arrested in an underage-sex sting operation by Pennsylvania law enforcement officials. The Lancaster New Era reported that David Eller was arrested on charges of arranging a sexual encounter with someone he thought was a 12-year-old girl. According to the newspaper, Eller had numerous online conversations -- some of them sexually explicit -- with police officers pretending to be the girl, and he indicated that some of those conversations were from his office. Eller is in jail and could not be reached for comment. Elizabethtown is affiliated with the Church of the Brethren and Eller's biography says that in addition to his work in the religious studies department, he is an ordained minister in the church and director of the Young Center for Anabaptist and Pietist Studies.
  • Two top leaders of Southern Illinois University on Friday issued statements on recent plagiarism charges in which some students, faculty members and alumni charge that administrators aren't punished for copying the work of others.  Vaughn Vandegrift, chancellor of the Edwardsville campus, issued a statement in which he acknowledged that some remarks he made at a lunch honoring the work of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. "were not properly acknowledged." He said that while this was "completely unintentional," he wanted to apologize and to take "full responsibility" for the problem. Glenn Poshard, president of the university system, also took issue with the recent criticism that some portions of university Web sites and other documents featured greetings from leaders that were written by others and used by previous people in those jobs. Poshard said it was unfair to compare those incidents to other forms of plagiarism. "I cannot sit idly by and watch the name and credibility of good people being ruined by a vindictive motive," he said.
  • Michigan State University has started a new program to eliminate the need to borrow for its neediest undergraduates. The loan-free aid packages will go to first-time freshmen who are from Michigan, are eligible for Pell Grants, and have a total family income at or below the federal poverty level.
  • The National Collegiate Athletic Association has determined that academic courses that prospectivge athletes have earned at Fork Union Military Academy will count toward satisfying NCAA academic requirements for freshmen, the military school announced Friday. Fork Union officials had protested when the institution was included on a list of institutions that the NCAA was scrutinizing in a wide-ranging review of high schools whose academic credits are seen as of questionable academic merit.
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