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Statement this morning


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Times Sports Staff pmarsh9485@msn.com

Richardson to issue 'brief' statement this morning


Phillip Marshalls article 7-21-06 , Huntsville Times

AUBURN - James Gundlach, the professor who alleged academic irregularities in Auburn's sociology department, says the issues he raised involved a minority of athletes. He says he does not believe NCAA rules were violated.

But it is the athletes who are getting the attention.

Gundlach told The Columbus-Ledger Enquirer that he talked on the telephone Tuesday afternoon with members of the House of Representatives Ways and Means Committee about allegations he made against department head Thomas Petee.

The Oversight Committee of the Ways and Means Committee has been researching the tax-exempt status of college athletics, Gundlach said.

"They're interested in looking at the issue of whether or not big-time college athletics deserves to have its tax-exempt status continued," Gundlach said. "Their original thinking was that it was seen as contributing to education."

Gundlach said he was asked to testify if the subcommittee holds hearings on the issue.

Last week, Gundlach alleged that Petee had offered so-called directed-study classes to far more students than is acceptable. He said a minority of those students were athletes.

A three-person committee appointed by Provost John Heilman is investigating the allegations.

Ed Richardson, Auburn's interim president, has called what a press conference for what is billed as a "brief" statement today at 10 a.m.

Gundlach told The Huntsville Times that he didn't believe any NCAA rules had been broken. NCAA executive directory Myles Brand told The New York Times that he viewed the controversy as an academic issue and not an athletics issue. Gundlach said Petee drastically reduced the number of directed-study classes he was teaching after Gundlach confronted him at a faculty meeting in 2005.

Auburn football coach Tommy Tuberville said he knew of no wrongdoing in the football program, but he said he would not comment on specifics until the internal probe is over.

"It's being investigated and we'll deal with it when it's over," Tuberville said. "Everybody across the country has independent study courses. If something is wrong with what we're doing, we'll change it. If it's not, we won't."

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Where is that dead horse? I would like to take a few pokes at it this morning.

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