LSU completes report on internal investigation

LSU released the results of its internal investigation into allegations of academic wrongdoing involving and the school's Academic Center for Student-Athletes.<br><br>According to Chancellor Mark Emmert, the probe uncovered five violations of NCAA rules that he terms as "secondary."

The five listed violations are as follows:


1. An mentor from the Academic Center for Student Athletes (ACSA), on one occasion, typed a paper for a student-athlete.


2. An ACSA employee and an Athletic Department employee arranged for a prospective student-athlete to receive five hours of free tutoring and a place to study.


3. On one occasion, a tutor assisted a student-athlete in writing a paper and then typed the paper for the student-athlete.


4. Two academic mentors on one occasion typed parts of a lab reports for two student-athletes.


5. An ACSA employee had, on one identified occasion, typed papers and helped student-athletes with computer work when they were injured and unable to type.


"We do not believe that these violations rise to the level of what the NCAA terms major violations," said Emmert. "Nor do we believe these violations resulted in any recruiting or competitive advantage for the university. The final decisions in this regard, however, reside with the NCAA itself."


Emmert later added that he didn't think potential NCAA sanctions would include banning the football team from post-season bowls. Although football players were the ones involved in the violations, the investigation also included allegations involving a member of the LSU soccer team and one other undisclosed sport.


LSU has forwarded its report to the NCAA and its enforcement staff, and the university will wait to see if the NCAA replies with an official letter of inquiry. An assigned NCAA investigator will use the report to determine if the violations warrant additional investigation.


"Should this occur as it normally does," said Emmert, "we will be in communication with the NCAA and cooperate fully."


Emmert added that he didn't expect a reply from the NCAA before the end of the year. 


LSU is already on NCAA probation for rules violations in the recruitment of former basketball player Lester Earl. The concern for Emmert and other LSU officials is if the NCAA would consider the university a repeat offender and come down with harsher sanctions.


"Because we are already on probationary status, even if (the violations) are secondary in nature," said Saban, "we may nonetheless be asked to appear before the (NCAA) infractions committee. They may nonetheless, even if they're ruled secondary, want to conduct an inquiry with us. It does of course mitigate the sanctions that could be impacted on us."


Bo Bahnsen, director of NCAA compliance for LSU, voiced some concern about the possibility that numerous secondary violations might accumulate into a major NCAA violation.


"(The NCAA) doesn't really define ‘numerous,'" said Bahnsen. "Since we're on probation, you've got to be very careful. I don't know where that number hits. Cumulative secondary violations could turn into a major infraction. But when you're dealing in the area of academic integrity, that could also levy it.


"We feel right now that the violations we have are very isolated and confined to a short period of time, and don't raise to the level of what we consider a major one."


Emmert said the internal investigation did not reveal any wrongdoing related to the claims in the lawsuit brought about by two former employees. LSU kinesiology instructor Tiffany Mayne and graduate assistant Caroline Owen filed lawsuits against LSU claiming they were told to change the grades of players who plagiarized papers. A status hearing on the suits is upcoming in Baton Rouge federal court.


Friday's 15-minute news conference focused mostly on the history of the internal investigation and the steps LSU has taken before and since the allegations of impropriety were brought forward in January of this year.


The steps include the hiring of Dr. Roger Grooters as the head of the ASCA, new training, procedures and policies for staff, tutors and athletes aimed at ensuring NCAA compliance, and the reassignment of two ACSA employees involved in the violations. The names of the employees and the athletes were not included in the report.


LSU officially began its probe after a former graduate assistant and academic mentor in the ACSA advised Grooters of possible NCAA violations on January 16, 2002. Grooters followed the university's chain of command and reported the allegations to Bahnsen and Greg Vincent, LSU's Vice Provost. Bahnsen and Vincent instructed Grooters to interview the mentor and two individuals the mentor had identified as having information about the possible violations.


Following the interviews, the Bahnsen, Grooters and Vincent met and chose to inform Emmert of the potential NCAA transgressions, bring in LSU Human Resources to address personnel issues and conduct interviews with the mentors and the individual who had been identified as the possible violator of NCAA bylaws. 


Dan Radakovich, LSU's senior associate athletics director, and Bahnsen conducted the second interviews in early February and then met with Emmert, athletics director Skip Bertman and other university administrators to discuss findings. The university decided at this time to inform the Southeastern Conference of the allegations.


Following the initial interviews, Emmert began to plan a more thorough investigation into the violations and a comprehensive probe into all aspects of the ASCA. He later e-mailed all 4,561 LSU staff and faculty members, asking them to come forward to acting Provost Dr. Laura Lindsey with any information they had regarding student-athlete plagiarism, pressure to show academic favoritism toward athletes or improprieties involving the ACSA.


With the investigation underway, LSU contracted with Mike Glazier, an attorney with extensive experience in matters involving NCAA infractions. His past clients have included the University of Minnesota, Cal-Berkley and Notre Dame.


A member of the NCAA enforcement staff was present at LSU for some of the interviews after NCAA was informed of the investigation on March 21. LSU officials met with NCAA representatives on May 6 to discuss the ongoing probe and continued to investigate all leads through early August.


In all, Emmert says over 90 individuals were interviewed in the internal investigation.


"This has been a long, challenging process for all of at LSU," said Emmert. "I have insisted that we take whatever time was necessary to conduct our inquiry in as thorough and comprehensive a manner as was warranted and appropriate."


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