Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

October 26, 2018

Even though the football program at the University of Maryland, College Park, was plagued with abuse by the staff -- including one coach who would use foul language and throw around weights and a trash can full of vomit -- its culture was not “toxic,” according to 200-page report on the state’s flagship program leaked to The Baltimore Sun.

The Sun obtained the report on the football program written by an eight-person commission established by the University System of Maryland’s Board of Regents. The program was first scrutinized after the June death of player Jordan McNair, 19, who was improperly treated for heatstroke.

The regents previously released a report on McNair’s death, which College Park president Wallace Loh already publicly took full “legal and moral” responsibility for.

This second report, which had not been made public as of Thursday evening, details abusive conduct by strength and conditioning coach Rick Court, who left the university in August after explosive media reports on the football team. Head coach DJ Durkin remains on leave, as do other staffers.

Players interviewed for the report said that Court would attempt to humiliate players by tossing food, weights and, on one occasion, the trash can. Though some players described Court as “motivational,” the commission determined he was inappropriate.

Court, who also frequently used profanity, and called people “fat,” was never given a performance review, according to the Sun. Nor was it clear whom he reported to -- Durkin said he was not charged with supervising him, though Durkin initially hired Court.

Commission members did not find the culture “toxic,” which means it would have to be “extremely harsh, malicious, or harmful,” according to the Sun.

The institution received a copy of the report and is reviewing it, the Sun reported.

Another article in the Sun reported that eight Maryland legislators have sent a letter to the Maryland board urging it to retain Loh in office.

 

October 26, 2018

The University of Central Florida is asking employees to report -- rather than comply with -- extortion attempts many are receiving through their email accounts. The email messages claim to have images of the employee watching pornography and say that the employee has a "wild imagination." The employees are told to pay $900 or risk being exposed. The university posted a redacted copy of the email to Twitter.

October 26, 2018

Ho Ka Terence Yung pleaded guilty in federal court to charges that he engaged in 18 months of cyberstalking and making false accusations against an alumnus of Georgetown University's law school who interviewed him as part of the admissions process and recommended he be rejected, which he was, Delaware Online reported. Yung admitted to falsely accusing the man who interviewed him of rape, lynching, sexual molestation and graphic violence.

October 26, 2018

A former Minnesota lawmaker who is running to be the state’s next attorney general will return $24,500 in campaign contributions he received from donors affiliated with a pair of troubled for-profit universities.

The Minneapolis Star Tribune reported that Republican Doug Wardlow received donations from 10 people affiliated with Globe University and Minnesota School of Business.

The Minnesota Supreme Court ruled last year that the schools issued thousands of loans illegally and charged unlawfully high interest rates. In 2016, a judge found that they had defrauded students. State Attorney General Lori Swanson had earlier sued the schools for consumer fraud and illegal loans.

State finance records show that each of the donors gave Wardlow either $2,000 or $2,500 last month, the Star Tribune reported. The Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party, the Minnesota branch of the Democratic Party, said 10 people, including Globe owner Terry Myhre, donated to Wardlow; Jeanne Herrmann, Globe’s former COO, gave $2,500.

Herrmann told the newspaper that she and others have consistently supported Republican candidates for state and federal office, both through campaign contributions and fund-raisers.

The two for-profits, which share a common owner in the Myhre family, saw their federal aid payments blocked in 2016, amid a broader Obama administration crackdown on for-profits. As a result, they began winding down operations at their 19 locations in Minnesota, South Dakota and Wisconsin. The business now operates in Wisconsin as Broadview University, with Herrmann as CEO.

A recent Star Tribune/Minnesota Public Radio poll found that Wardlow, a former one-term member of the Minnesota House of Representatives, holds a seven-percentage-point lead over his Democratic rival for attorney general, U.S. Representative Keith Ellison.

October 26, 2018

Marist College announced Thursday that it will be the new home of the Mind-Set List, the annual start-of-the-academic-year list of things that (traditional-age) freshmen know or don't know, based on their life experiences. The list was created at Beloit College in 1998 and attracts headlines every fall. Here is the most recent list.

October 26, 2018

A new report by the Century Foundation examines how state and federal policy makers should provide more funding and resources to community colleges.

The report, written by Richard Kahlenberg and Robert Shireman, senior fellows at the foundation, recommends that states use research to connect funding to specific educational goals, connect increased funding with smart accountability schemes and couple free college initiatives to commitments that ensure community colleges provide high-quality opportunities.

The authors of the report also recommend that the federal government form new partnerships with states to provide matching grants.

October 26, 2018

Cheddar, a streaming video company, has purchased Rate My Professors, the site that is influential with students and widely criticized by educators. A statement from Cheddar is promising improvements in the site to "offer students a better toolset to search, evaluate and compare professors." Viacom has owned Rate My Professors.

October 26, 2018

Today on the Academic Minute, Joseph Ferrari, professor of psychology at DePaul University, explains why everyone procrastinates, but not everyone is a procrastinator. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

October 25, 2018

A new study by the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis shows that federal aid to low-income students, as opposed to all students, offers significant economic payoff to the country. The study notes that providing enough aid to low-income students is expensive, but finds that "the economic optimum is achieved when financial aid is strictly directed to students from low-income households. For them, financial aid is the key to attending college; without it, higher education is not an option."

October 25, 2018

Two sports apparel company executives and an aspiring sports agent were found guilty Wednesday of wire fraud charges in connection with the most significant sports scandal in recent National Collegiate Athletic Association history -- a scheme to pay off the families of men’s basketball recruits and secure their commitment to teams at Adidas-sponsored universities.

James Gatto and Merl Code Jr., two former Adidas employees, and the agent Christian Dawkins were found guilty after a three-week jury trial. Sentencing begins in March, and each could face several years in prison.

Prosecutors argued that the men had defrauded the University of Louisville, the University of Kansas and North Carolina State University by paying recruits sums in excess of tens of thousands of dollars. Federal officials first revealed the shoe company’s influence on the sport more than a year ago, when they also arrested four coaches at high-profile programs.

The tumult surrounding the charges prompted the NCAA to consider a set of changes in its rules governing college basketball.

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