The Chronicle of Higher Education named the University of Texas and its former men’s basketball coach, Rick Barnes, in an academic misconduct report that was released on Wednesday. Barnes, who coached at Texas from 1998 until March of this year, arrived to Knoxville with a spotless NCAA record, but the report suggests that Texas, and, ultimately Barnes, could come under investigation in the near future for “several” academic incidents that allegedly took place in recent years.
As far as Barnes is concerned, the report focuses on a singular incident with former Texas men’s basketball player Martez Walker, who was caught cheating on a math test by former instructor Pamela G. Powell. Not only did Walker face no punishment for cheating, but went on to pass the class and was later named to the Big 12 Commissioner’s Honor Roll.
Here’s an excerpt from the report:
“The incident is one of several accusations of academic misconduct under Rick Barnes, Texas’ head basketball coach from 1998 until this year. One former academic mentor in the athletic department told The Chronicle that he had helped write papers for J’Covan Brown, a former guard. A tutor for P.J. Tucker, another onetime Longhorns player, said Mr. Tucker had received impermissible academic assistance while he was preparing for the NBA draft.
Through a spokesman, Coach Barnes, who was fired in March, denied knowledge of problems at Austin. (Texas officials said his departure was not related to the cheating accusations.) But a new NCAA policy requires head coaches to demonstrate an atmosphere of compliance in their programs. If the NCAA were to find violations at Texas, Mr. Barnes — now head coach at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville — could face NCAA sanctions.”
The Vols hired Barnes after they fired former head basketball coach Donnie Tyndall for cause earlier this March in the midst of an NCAA investigation into some of his alleged actions. Tyndall was the second UT basketball coach to come under NCAA scrutiny in four years after the program also fired former coach Bruce Pearl in 2011 after he admitted to providing false and misleading information during a separate NCAA investigation.
– See the entire article here: How Athletics and Academics Collided at One University.
• The author of the report, Brad Wolverton, also wrote a story titled “Confessions of a Fixer” that was published on Dec. 30, 2014, that interviewed a man who only went by “Mr. White” who confessed to helping “hundreds” of athletes cheat academically. According to this article, Mr. White’s records included information on J’Covan Brown, who was referenced in Wednesday’s article.
The timing of that is note-worthy, because it was well before the Vols hired Barnes, and presumably means that Dave Hart and Tennessee would’ve had the opportunity to vet at least some of this situation before bringing Barnes on in late March.
• Texas responded to the allegations, saying via statement:
“Academic integrity is at the core of the University of Texas. Our student-athletes’ academic progress rates are among the best in the nation. And we continually seek to foster an ethical culture that reduces the risk of wrongdoing, manages our internal controls, and responds to inappropriate conduct.
“The university takes any suggestion of wrongdoing extremely seriously. We are always looking to identify problems that may exist and ways we can do better. Working with external NCAA bylaw and academic compliance experts Gene Marsh and Geoff Silver, UT is investigating allegations raised by The Chronicle of Higher Education and has contacted the NCAA about them. We determined that the university had no knowledge of two former student-athletes allegedly receiving improper help with high school coursework before they enrolled. We now are reviewing three other cases purported to have occurred over a nine-year period since 2006 to determine if any university or NCAA rules were violated and if any action is needed. The university has no information that suggests Rick Barnes knew of or was involved in any academic improprieties. President Gregory L. Fenves is actively working with his leadership teams in both Student Affairs and Athletics to pursue the highest levels of integrity for all UT students.”