Print and Go Back ESPN.com: Men's College Basketball [Print without images]

Friday, June 5, 2009
Georgia denied Dozier on SAT worries

By Mark Schlabach
ESPN.com

ATHENS, Ga. -- Former University of Memphis forward Robert Dozier's initial SAT score was invalidated by the company that scores the exam, and when he took the test a second time, he scored 540 fewer points, ESPN.com has learned through an open records request.

In addition, a person claiming to be a faculty member at his high school in suburban Atlanta wrote an anonymous letter to the NCAA Initial-Eligibility Clearinghouse questioning his score on the admissions test, records obtained from the University of Georgia show.

That prompted Georgia to deny Dozier admission. He ended up at Memphis, where he helped lead the Tigers to the 2008 NCAA Final Four.

Robert Dozier
Former Memphis Tiger Robert Dozier talks with John Calipari in a 2009 game.

This is the second time in recent weeks that a former Memphis basketball player has had his SAT scores questioned.

On Saturday, Memphis officials will appear before the NCAA Committee on Infractions in Indianapolis, where they will answer charges that Derrick Rose, who played only the 2007-08 season at Memphis before becoming the No. 1 pick in the NBA draft by the Chicago Bulls, cheated on his SAT while attending Chicago's Simeon Career Academy.

Former Memphis coach John Calipari, now at Kentucky, is expected to participate in the hearing by phone from China, where is is on a previously scheduled trip.

Earlier this week, Memphis officials released the findings of an internal investigation, which turned up no proof that Rose had a stand-in take his SAT. The Tigers also are accused of providing improper travel-related benefits to Rose's older brother, Reggie.

Dozier's academic credentials before enrolling at Memphis will not be included in Saturday's hearing in Indianapolis. By NCAA procedures, anything not included in the original letter of inquiry cannot be included in the hearing with the Committee on Infractions. The NCAA could investigate the issue separately and give Memphis officials time to respond.

Asked Friday morning about the Dozier case, Memphis athletic director R.C. Johnson told ESPN.com's Andy Katz: "We still feel comfortable about what we've done and that we've done all the do-rights, and time will tell. You don't want any of that stuff happening, but I'm pretty comfortable we've done all the things we're supposed to do."

Johnson added, "I thought we dotted all the I's and crossed all the T's on that situation. I know nothing different today than I did then."

According to Dozier's academic records, which were obtained by ESPN.com through Georgia open records laws, he took the SAT for the first time Dec. 6, 2003, about five months after he verbally committed to play for the Tigers. He scored 1,260 of a possible 1,600 points (the highest possible score at the time) on the test, according to the records.

Dozier later reneged on his commitment to Memphis and signed a national letter of intent with Georgia in March 2004. But Georgia admissions officials immediately were alarmed by Dozier's high SAT score, which they said didn't correlate with his below-average academic performance at Lithonia (Ga.) High School or his score on the PSAT, a preparatory exam for the SAT.

In its report to UGA president Michael Adams, the school's faculty admissions review committee, which evaluates the admission applications of prospective student-athletes, recommended a "strong deny" in Dozier's case.

"Of greatest concern is the gross inconsistency in his testing record," the committee wrote in its report. "His [SAT verbal score of 590] would place him in the 76th percentile nationally, while his [SAT math score of 670] places him in the 89th percentile. This raises a serious red flag, since his PSAT from October 2000 places him in the 4th percentile nationally in both areas. Such a remarkable improvement in testing abilities in the span of nine months is highly improbable, particularly for a student with a C-minus record in average college prep courses in high school."

Georgia officials were further alarmed when the NCAA Initial-Eligibility Clearinghouse, which certifies prospects' academic credentials for NCAA initial eligibility, received an anonymous letter alleging someone else took Dozier's SAT. The author of the March 30, 2004, letter claimed to be a faculty member at Dozier's high school.

In the letter, the author wrote: "This score is completely out of line with anything Robert has done academically at our school. My suspicions were confirmed when a faculty member mentioned that he was told someone else took the test for Robert. Allegedly, a graduate of our school took the test for Robert at the North Atlanta High School test center.

"Understand that these are allegations only. It is not my job to investigate any of this. As an educator, I felt compelled to report this information to your office. Desperate times sometimes lead to desperate measures. Academic integrity is very important to me. If this case is investigated and Robert is cleared of any wrongdoing, I would be the first to apologize for my suspicions. However, if any of this is true, then Robert and whoever was involved should be held accountable."

Educational Testing Service, the nonprofit company that develops, administers and scores the SAT, opened an investigation of Dozier's test score in June 2004. In a June 14, 2004, letter to Dozier, ETS officials told him that "we believe there appears to be substantial evidence that your scores [on the SAT] are invalid. Our preliminary concerns are based on a comparison of the handwriting on your answer sheet with the handwriting on other documents such as your registration form and external documents."

ETS officials offered Dozier a chance to validate his score by taking the SAT again. Dozier took the test in July 2004 and scored 720 -- 540 points less than his earlier score.

As a result, ETS officials canceled the score from his first SAT. Adams denied Dozier's admission application to UGA on Aug. 18, 2004.

Robert Dozier
Robert Dozier led Memphis to the 2009 Conference USA title.

Georgia Athletic Association spokesman Claude Felton said the school would have no further comment "beyond what was included in the documents provided."

Jacquelyn Dozier, the player's mother, would not say whether someone else took the first SAT for her son.

"That wasn't at Memphis," Jacquelyn Dozier told ESPN.com on Thursday night. "I have no idea. You need to talk to Georgia."

Jacquelyn Dozier said her son was in Memphis and unavailable for comment. Robert Dozier did not respond to voice mails and text messages sent to his cell phone by ESPN.com.

ETS spokesman Tom Ewing told ESPN.com's Dana O'Neil earlier this week that canceling a student's SAT score is rare.

"A tip only gets the ball rolling," Ewing told ESPN.com. "We cannot cancel a score on any tip, anonymous or otherwise. Cancellations don't happen very often. We administer three million SATs per year. We'd get questions, I'd guess, on 2,000. Of those 2,000, we probably clear at least half or more, so this is not common at all."

Ewing said it's rare to see scores fluctuate like Dozier's scores did.

"Large score gains alert us," Ewing said. "Sixty years of administering this test show that, at most, scores go up 10 or 15 points, not 100."

With his college basketball career on hold during the 2004-05 season, Dozier enrolled at Laurinburg Institute, a prep school in Laurinburg, N.C., where he played with future Memphis teammates Antonio Anderson, Kareem Cooper, Roburt Sallie and Shawne Williams.

Laurinburg Institute, which was founded in 1904, is the oldest of only four remaining African-American owned and operated boarding schools in the country. The school has an enrollment of 135 students, according to its Web site, and annual tuition costs are between $15,000 and $16,000. Laurinburg Institute claims jazz trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie and former NBA All-Star Charlie Scott -- the first black player in University of North Carolina history -- among its prominent alumni.

Laurinburg Institute became a pipeline for Memphis during Calipari's nine-year tenure. Former Memphis player Joey Dorsey also attended the school, which is located about 90 miles southeast of Charlotte. While at Laurinburg Institute, Dozier met the NCAA's initial eligibility requirements. He signed to play for the Tigers in November 2004 and enrolled the next year.

In 2007, the NCAA launched a three-year investigation of Laurinburg Institute during its review of college prep schools around the country. In May, the NCAA announced it would no longer accept courses, grades and diplomas from Laurinburg Institute because of concerns about its academic programs and oversight.

Johnson said Memphis officials had no reason to be concerned about Laurinburg Institute at the time Calipari was recruiting players from the school.

"Not at the time we didn't," Johnson said. "That's just one of many [prep schools], and to single them out is not right. We will abide by all rules and we give it the time and continue to do so."

Dozier, a 6-foot-9 forward, started 36 of 37 games for the Tigers during their remarkable 2007-08 season. He was the Tigers' third-leading scorer (9.2 points per game) and second-leading rebounder (6.8). This past season, Dozier averaged 12.9 points and 7.5 rebounds as a senior, earning second-team All-Conference USA honors. During Dozier's four seasons at Memphis, the Tigers went 137-14 and played in 17 NCAA tournament games.

During this past season, Calipari often boasted that Anderson and Dozier would graduate from Memphis in only four years.

Calipari proved to be prophetic -- Dozier graduated from the school May 9, receiving a degree in interdisciplinary studies.

Johnson said he's comfortable with the academic reputation of his school's basketball program under Calipari.

"We've got a good program in place and we really focus on it, and I'm comfortable that we're doing a good job on our end, and the proof is in the pudding and we're graduating players," Johnson said.

Mark Schlabach covers college sports for ESPN.com. ESPN.com staff writers Andy Katz, Dana O'Neil and Pat Forde contributed to this report.