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Current scandal inspires memories of Kemp case

ATHENS, Ga. - The confirmed charge that Georgia student-athletes were given credit for a class they did not attend supports stereotypes of preferential academic treatment for scholarship athletes.

Similar charges sparked the suit by Jan Kemp 20 years ago, when the former development studies teacher protested student-athletes given passing grades without meeting standards required of other students. She filed a successful lawsuit when she claimed she was punished for speaking out about the standards for student-athletes.

  This month, investigations by Georgia and the NCAA  uncovered proof of claims made by former player Tony Cole that he and two other members of the men's basketball team were given A's in a P.E. class, taught by assistant basketball coach Jim Harrick Jr., despite not attending the class.

The Cole charges, like the Kemp case, threaten more than the future of coaches or players. The academic integrity of the university is on the line, so academicians and especially the P.E. class in question  have been placed in the public spotlight.

Within a week of the first report of Cole's charges,  Harrick Jr. was suspended with pay and then told he will not return next season. Head coach Jim Harrick  also is suspended and his future at Georgia is in doubt.

Also, University of Georgia vice president for academic affairs and provost Arnett Mace Jr.  issued a letter of reprimand to the head of the Physical Education and Sports Studies department, Paul Schempp.

Mace said Harrick Jr. was hastily and improperly approved as the instructor of the course and apparently did not adhere to the syllabus or written attendance policy for the course.

However, Mace insisted, "This is not a bogus course.'' Said Mace this week: "This is a course that is required  for the certificate in coaching. We have majors in this institution who have interest in a career in coaching in high school or another level. This is a requirement for that, the same as we have requirements for other professions.'' Added Mace: "It never has been a bogus course. We do not have courses on our books we would consider in any manner to be bogus.''

  Course number PEDS 3912 is called "Coaching Methods for Basketball'' on the class syllabus. Of about 30 students enrolled for the class taught by Harrick Jr. last fall, 10 were student-athletes. But there is evidence that only the three members of the men's basketball team - Cole, Rashad Wright and Chris Daniels - received credit without attending the class.

Daniels told this newspaper last week the players "were just doing what we were told (by Harrick Jr.).''

Daniels said the players were told by Harrick Jr. that assistant coach and Schempp "had a deal'' that the basketball players would receive credit for the course for attending basketball practice.

"We just thought we were following the rules,'' Daniels said.

Schempp said this week he never agreed to that arrangement with Harrick Jr. "No, that was not what was agreed on when we set up the course,'' Schempp said. "That was not what was set up on the syllabus. I had no knowledge that was being done.''

Added Schempp of the apparent standard for members of the basketball team: "That's not what is written in the syllabus. The instructors themselves are responsible for (monitoring attendance) and there was a written policy.''

Mace said there never should be different standards set for any group of students, including student-athletes.

"In any course we offer we expect all students to perform the same types of exercises to obtain the grade in the course,'' Mace said. "We ask they be specified in the beginning of the semester so everyone understands.''

Schempp and Mace said Schempp's predecessor as head of the P.E. department, Stan Brassie, made the initial contact with Harrick Jr. about teaching the course.

Brassie, now retired, could not be reached for comment.

Dooley said the course would never again "be offered by one of our coaches.''

In fact, Mace has had meetings this week about a possible new policy to prevent any member of a coaching staff being used as an instructor for any class.

"That has been one of a number of alternatives that have been discussed,'' Mace said. "There has been no change (in policy) yet. This is something that would need to go through our university counsel in terms of changes.''

Mace and Schempp also noted that without such a policy against coaches serving as instructors, Harrick Jr., who previously taught a similar class when working at San Diego State, was qualified to teach the course.

"(Harrick Jr.) looked qualified at the time,'' Schempp said. "He had taught it before and he had extensive coaching experience.''

University of Georgia president Michael Adams and athletics director Vince Dooley - a survivor of the Kemp trial - responded quickly and with surprising strong measures in their stands against the latest academic scandal.

The confirmed charge of academic fraud and accompanying evidence of unethical conduct are only part of the ongoing investigation of the basketball program, but Dooley and Adams said these were the most serious allegations in the case.

Even if it is confirmed that Georgia coaches had a role in NCAA rules violations by paying bills for Cole - a charge that alone could result in severe NCAA sanctions - Dooley and Adams are most concerned about the academic fraud.

Dooley called the evidence of academic fraud "cardinal findings and concerns  of  the most serious nature.''

Said Adams: "This is the only (course) where we know of this kind of conduct and we believe this is the only one where this occurred.''


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