Report: Auburn investigating athletes' academics

NEW YORK -- Carnell "Cadillac" Williams and other Auburn
athletes received high grades from the same professor for sociology
and criminology courses that didn't require them to attend classes
or do much work, The New York Times reported.

Williams, the former star running back who now plays for the
NFL's Tampa Bay Buccaneers, told the newspaper the only two classes
he took the spring semester of his senior year were one-on-one
courses with Professor Thomas Petee, the sociology department's
highest-ranking member.

The Times reported on its Web site Thursday night that 18
members of the 2004 football team -- a team that went undefeated and
finished No. 2 in the nation -- took a combined 97 hours of the
courses during their careers. The newspaper said the offerings
resemble independent study and include subjects as statistics,
theory and methods, which normally require class instruction.

Under the NCAA's academic reforms, programs that fail to meet
the NCAA's minimum academic progress rate -- determined by a points
formula that rewards long-term eligibility and retention of
student-athletes -- can lose scholarships. NCAA president Myles
Brand has pushed the reforms, emphasizing student-athletes are
students first.

"Academic integrity is at the foundation of every university,"
Auburn Provost John Heilman said in a statement. "In May, a
complaint was made ... alleging that a single professor gave grades
to student athletes for courses that required little or no work.
The Office of the Provost takes any concern related to academic
processes at the university seriously. As a result, on June 5, I
appointed a committee to investigate the anonymous claim."

The report will be made public when the investigation is

"I want to assure everyone associated with Auburn that upon
completion of the investigation we will deal with this issue as we
have dealt with other challenges -- directly and openly," Auburn
interim President Ed Richardson said in a statement.

The Times, citing records compiled by Professor James Gundlach,
the director of the Auburn sociology department who reports to
Petee, reported one athlete took seven courses with Petee, three
took six, five took five and eight took four.

Former Auburn defensive end Doug Langenfeld told The Times a
directed-reading course with Petee required he read one book and
write a 10-page paper. "I got a 'B' in the class," Langenfeld
told The Times.

The newspaper said Gundlach found that more than a quarter of
the students in Petee's directed-reading courses were athletes.