Quick Takes: Cuomo Expands Probe, Lawmakers Sound Alarm on Loans, Fresno State Appeals, Push to Reverse Alabama Reforms, Fisk Eliminates Athletics, NCAA Penalties for Texas Christian

February 29, 2008
  • Andrew Cuomo, New York State's attorney general, continues to expand his inquiries into colleges' business relationships. Newsday reported that Cuomo -- whose probes of student lenders have already led to significant reforms, fines and resignations -- is now looking at colleges' ties to insurance, textbook, food service and credit card companies.
  • Leaders of the U.S. House and Senate education committees on Thursday released a letter they had sent to Margaret Spellings, the secretary of education, urging her to take steps to assure continued access to student loans should credit markets continue to tighten. The letter -- from U.S. Rep. George Miller of California and Sen. Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts -- noted that changes in the credit market can appear quickly and catch people and lenders by surprise. Establishing full contingency plans now (which the lawmakers said should include ensuring that the government's direct loan program is prepared to absorb any additional demand) could avert difficulties in the event that the situation worsens, the letter said. The letter notes that Spellings plans to send her own letter to college officials this week reassuring them that developments like the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Authority's decision to stop providing federal loans portend an inability for college students to obtain the necessary loan funds to pay for their education -- a prospect that even the Pennsylvania lender plays down.
  • California State University at Fresno has filed an appeal of a $6.6 million award to a former coach who won a suit charging gender discrimination, The Fresno Bee reported. The judge in the case already has reduced the award from $19.1 million. University officials indicated that they were open to discussing a settlement.
  • Alabama's community colleges have seen a series of scandals in recent years and many see as a root cause a tradition of many community college leaders serving as legislators. Trying to avoid such conflicts of interest, a state board last year approved new rules that will bar community college officials from simultaneously holding legislative seats. This week, a legislative committee approved legislation to allow legislators to reverse state board rules, The Birmingham News reported. Two interesting notes. One: The lawmaker pushing the legislation holds a community college job. Two: He pushed the measure on voice votes, even as other lawmakers were demanding roll call votes.
  • Fisk University is ending its participation in intercollegiate athletics, replacing a Division III National Collegiate Athletic Association program with intramural offerings, The Tennessean reported. Because the university does not award athletic scholarships, officials said that the 127 athletes and the financially strapped institution would not be hindered in completing their degree programs.
  • Texas Christian University was punished by the National Collegiate Athletic Association's Division I Committee on Infractions for major violations for the second time in three years Thursday. That made Texas Christian a "repeat violator" under NCAA rules, which means that the men's tennis team -- whose former coach was found to have made scores of impermissible telephone calls to recruited athletes -- could have been susceptible to the association's "death penalty," resulting in suspension of its ability to compete. But the infractions panel stopped well short of such a penalty, limiting recruiting and scholarships.
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