Professor indicted for sham courses that kept revenue athletes eligible

That was at UNC. What about UO? The NYT has the UNC story:

One of dozens of courses in the department that officials say were taught incompletely or not at all, AFAM 280 is the focus of a criminal indictment against Mr. Nyang’oro that was issued last month.

Eighteen of the 19 students enrolled in the class were members of the North Carolina football team (the other was a former member), reportedly steered there by academic advisers who saw their roles as helping athletes maintain high enough grades to remain eligible to play.

Handed up by an Orange County, N.C., grand jury, the indictment charged Nyang’oro with “unlawfully, willfully and feloniously” accepting payment “with the intent to cheat and defraud” the university in connection with the AFAM course — a virtually unheard-of legal accusation against a professor.

At UO, for 5 years Steve Stolp, Director of the Jaqua Center for Student-Athletes, (or, as the NY Times calls it, Oregon’s Jock Box) required all entering athletes take an athlete-only course called “Special Studies: Issues in Intercollegiate Athletics”. This course was taught by Duck athletic department employees, who gave out 3 UO academic credits for it.

You can get an idea of the academic content of this course by checking out the final project videos by the students, several of which they posted themselves on youtube, here: The syllabus included academic highlights such as “Athletic Department Scavenger Hunt” and “Read 101 things to do in Eugene. Do one thing on the list and respond to the discussion board”:

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This course had been taught for 5 years without any review by the UO faculty, to perhaps 500 athletes. It was cancelled last year by the UO Senate Committee on Courses, after it was finally submitted for review, 3 years after the deadline, and only after some strenuous prompting by UO Matters.

Academic oversight of athletics is supposedly done by long-time Duck booster and administrator Lorraine Davis, currently a semi-retired “special assistant” to President Gottfredson and Interim Provost Scott Coltrane. When I made a public records request for a copy of the contract spelling out Ms Davis’s precise job duties, I got the heavily redacted document below.

The academic operations of the Jaqua Center, whose services are only available to student-athletes, costs UO’s academic side $2.2M a year.  The UO administration justifies the subsidy by arguing the academic side can’t provide oversight of this operation unless we pay. We do pay, but we don’t have any oversight. Move it along professor, nothing to see here. Literally:

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9 Responses to Professor indicted for sham courses that kept revenue athletes eligible

  1. NCAAish says:

    The AD needs to have the provost pay for these sorts of things, so that when the NCAA comes snooping around he can claim none of this was done with his knowledge, consent, or funds. That’s ridiculous, but it worked for UNC and probably will at UO. The NCAA is happy looking the other way, because it means another reason to take more funds for athletics. Too bad, professor!

  2. ami says:

    This doesn’t seem parallel to the UNC situation at all. These types of courses can be a very good idea, helping freshmen learn how to be university students. And various types of “life skills” classes are pretty common across a lot of larger schools, and not just for athletes. I don’t object to the classes giving academic credit either, although at my university such classes are usually 1-2 units. If you have solid majors and solid gen ed requirements, then if students pick up a few easy elective units toward the required 180 (while learning strategies that help them succeed overall), that’s not the worst thing in the world.

    But dodging UO’s requirement that courses can only be taught once (?) on an experimental basis without curriculum committee review sounds like the most significant problem here. And 3 units sounds high for this type of class.

  3. at the UO, we don’t lie/cheat/steal… noooo. We just hide, play dumb, and ignore academic timelines.
    why on earth is L. Davis’s contract a secret? is state security at stake? soldiers lives? nope. just plain old corruption. JH, you stink.

    • uo matters says:

      Fwiw I think Davis is the best of the JH old guard. She does confuse what’s good for the Ducks with what’s good for UO though.

  4. Old Man says:

    “You will serve as Special Assistant to the President and the Provost BUT your assignments will be as follows.” My, but that “BUT” is tantalizing!

    • uomatters says:

      Old Man, when you post comments like “that but is tantalizing” my google ads get, well, graphic.

      I’ll see if I can tune adsense to exchange the sex for some Frohnmayeresque tobacco company buts. Probably pays better anyway.

      All part of my continued academic research into the economics of social media, of course.

      • uomatters says:

        Well, it seems like google doesn’t allow tobacco company ads, and anyway most of my revenue comes from financial planning ads. Must be something about all my posts on administrator golden parachute contracts, like the ones Frohnmayer gave Davis, and Pernsteiner gave Frohnmayer, and Donegan gave Pernsteiner.

        • But ... says:

          While you’re joking around, Lorraine is getting rich off selling UO to Phil Knight – massive PERs and a post-post-retirement contract.

  5. Old Man says:

    I appear to have been misunderstood.