Rodgers at the center of another controversy

An academic controversy has erupted in the Classics Department and an Arizona player seems to be at the center of it. After the smoke cleared, the head of the department resigned his post and the player's academic standing is in doubt.

Interim Classics Department head Dr. Alex Nava has resigned that post in the wake of a controversy that has former Wildcat basketball player Chris Rodgers in the middle of it. A number of teachers in the department were upset over Dr. Nava's allowing Rodgers into two classes they claim he was not eligible to take.

Eight faculty members in the Classics Department sent a letter of "no-confidence" to Dr. Charles Tatum, the dean of the College of Humanities. In the wake of the letter Nava resigned as interim department head.

An annonymous e-mail from someone claiming to be a staffer was sent to several media outlets in town prior to the "no-confidence" vote. The e-mail alleges that Rodgers was allowed to take nine units of graduate level classics courses. Classes in which he did not meet the prerequisite requirements.

Two courses, CLAS 340A (Introduction to Classical Art and Archaeology I) and CLAS 340B (Introduction to Classical Art and Archaeology II) are prerequisites for one of the two classes that Rodgers was allowed to take, CLASS 554.

"He thus is not even remotely qualified to sign up for the course, which is designed primarily for graduate students enrolled in the M.A. program in Classics and also for those in the Ph.D. program in Art History," the e-mail alleges.

A bigger controversy is a six-unit independent studies class. The e-mailer charges that Dr. Nava took responsibility for supervising Rodgers in the course, which is designed for students pursuing a masters of Ph.D. in Classics. The e-mail also charges that Rodgers failed to live up to his obligations in either course and that Dr. Nava used his position as interim head of the department to influence the supervising instructor to take no action against Rodgers.

Even if Rodgers was doing all of the necessary coursework in the classes, he is not eligible to take the classes as a non-degree seeking student. Rodgers did receive his degree last December, but it was in Psychology. He has no background in classics.

According the UA's latest on-line catalogue a non-degree student may take graduate classes, but is limited in what he can take. Rodgers, who apparently is not pursuing a masters in classics, falls into that category.

The catalogue reads: "Through non-degree status, a student may enroll for a maximum of six credits or two courses per semester. A maximum of 15 credits completed as a non-degree seeking student may be used for fulfilling undergraduate degree requirements…"

By registering for nine units, Rodgers violated this rule.

The situation gets very tricky due to FRPA laws. Rodgers' records are confidential due to privacy laws and many of these allegations cannot be substantiated by going through official channels.

Nava seems to be a controversial figure as he is actually a professor in Religious Studies. Although separate fields, the two are administered under the Classics banner. The fact that Dr. Nava does not have a degree in Classics seems to be part of the issue.

Both the e-mail and the memo stress that Dr. Nava does not have a degree in Classics. It is also stressed in both documents that he does not have the authority to supervise a student in an independent study of classics.

Nava was a controversal figure before the Rodgers incident as he was named head of the Classics Department but was not a classics professor. How much that played in the eight staffers' motivation is not known.

Nava was quite candid with the Tucson Weekly and admitted to working with Rodgers. He said that he met several times with Rodgers before Rodgers was suspended in late January, but has not seen him since.

It is another in a series of black eyes for Rodgers. Rodgers was held out of the starting line-up against Houston for one violation of a team rule and then was suspended eight games for what head coach Lute Olson deemed as "conduct detrimental to the team." Rodgers was reinstated late in the season, but never got back into the starting line-up.

If Rodgers is found to have been improperly admitted to the classes, he will likely be ruled academically ineligible. The program could face NCAA sanctions, but it is believed that they have already reported the incident to the NCAA.

The bigger problem could come from Nava's admittance that he is a big supporter of UA athletics and the fact that he has a number of athletes enrolled in his classes.

No one from the athletic department would comment on the record, but one coach admitted that his program was taking a deeper look into all players who had independent studies classes or classes in Religious Studies.

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