OSU cleared of academic misconduct charges

An internal investigation has found no evidence to support allegations of academic misconduct made against the Ohio State football program. OSU President Karen Holbrook and athletic director Andy Geiger revealed Wednesday that the NCAA has read the school's report and will take no further action in the matter, which began with a story in The New York Times in July.

OSU has been cleared of any wrongdoing alleged by a New York Times article printed back the summer.

An OSU committee determined that ex-OSU wide receiver Chris Vance did not commit academic misconduct nor did he receive preferential treatment. There were certain athletes they were not able to discuss -- most notably star tailback Maurice Clarett, who was the focus of the Times article -- due to privacy laws, but Vance signed a waiver that allowed the usage of his information.

In addition, no evidence was found to support the allegations of widespread academic misconduct. The NCAA has indicated they will not reopen the investigation.

"We take all allegations made against the university very seriously," said OSU President Karen Holbrook. "I assured you that integrity would be a big part of this process, and I am convinced that this committee acted thoroughly and responsibly."

Holbrook said she was most pleased that "the university's academic integrity is sound and there have been no breaches of institutional integrity or evidence to support inappropriate tutorial assistance."

Holbrook noted that an NCAA investigator joined the committee at various stages of the process, and the NCAA reviewed the report last week.

"They reviewed the report, and the NCAA does not contemplate taking any action," Holbrook said.

As part of the investigation, the committee interviewed 60 different people, ranging from academic advisors to professors to student-athletes to students who are not athletes. The committee made several recommendations on how Ohio State can improve its services and avoid potential wrongdoing. Those recommendations include reducing the case load for counselors and increasing the staff diversity. OSU has already hired one additional counselor and the school may take steps toward moving the student athlete support services out of the athletic department so there is no appearance of direct pressure on counselors to keep athletes eligible.

The investigation is expected to cost the university just under $100,000 including $75,000 for a law firm that specializes in NCAA cases.

Holbrook was joined at Wednesday's press conference by Matthew Platz, the chair of the committee and a chemistry professor, as well as Barbara Snyder, the interim provost.

The committee was asked if this investigation proves that the allegations by teaching assistant Norma McGill in the Times article were false and if it would prevent more allegations from whistleblowers in the future.

"I think that this shows that we take all allegations seriously and investigate," Snyder said. "I don't think anyone who blows the whistle can and will expect that they will be vindicated."

OSU athletic director Andy Geiger also voiced his approval of the findings.

"I said it was my hope that the investigation would be vigorous, thorough, and timeless, and that it wouldn't end until people would be satisfied with the outcome," Geiger said. "I am delighted to say that has happened.

"The people involved with the process were dilligent and thorough in their duties."

Geiger was asked if he felt relieved that his department was exonerated from wrongdoing.

"I don't feel relief because I never felt we were doing things incorrectly," he said.

Geiger was also asked about the situation surrounding Clarett. The athletic director noted that Clarett's situation has nothing to do with the academic investigation, but he did say, "We'll decide when and if we request his reinstatement as a student-athlete."

Last week, OSU coach Jim Tressel, who did not attend the press conference, intimated he would like to have Clarett back for spring practice if at all possible.

"I don't think I want to get into a date, certain," Geiger said. "I think it's a possibility."

Geiger then declined to comment on Clarett's academic status, citing privacy laws.

For a full transcript of the press conference, please visit the Ohio State official Web site.

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