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Tuberville says athletic program vindicated

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Tuberville says athletic program vindicated

Coach says academic staff at Auburn works hard

Friday, August 11, 2006


Times Sports Staff pmarsh9485@msn.com

AUBURN - For a month, the issue festered.

From the time a quiet summer was interrupted by sociology director James Gundlach's allegations of academic impropriety, Auburn football coach Tommy Tuberville has waited for what he was convinced would be vindication for his program and its approach to academics.

Thursday, interim Auburn president Ed Richardson said at a news conference that an internal investigation into Gundlach's complaints had found no evidence of wrongdoing in the athletic department.

"After being scrutinized for the last month nationally, through the newspaper, hopefully people will now see we try to do the best we can on and off the field," Tuberville said. "Our players do their work and graduate, and they do it in the right way."

The investigation started June 5 after an anonymous complaint about Thomas Petee, the interim chairman of Auburn's Department of Sociology, Anthropology, Social Work, Criminology and Criminal Justice. It grew to include the adult education program, coordinated by James Witte.

Petee and Witte have resigned their positions but will remain on the faculty as tenured professors, Richardson said Thursday.

The Auburn football program's lofty No. 3 national ranking in the NCAA's Academic Progress Rating didn't happen by accident, nor was it inflated, Tuberville said. The credit, he said, should go to the players and to the academic counselors, led by senior associate athletic director Virgil Starks, who work with them.

"For the last six years, we've done a lot to improve our academic support staff," Tuberville said. "We've added people. We've added tutors. It's important that all our players and all our athletes have an opportunity to be as successful as people who don't play athletics.

"The NCAA has made it harder each year for athletes to maintain their eligibility and get their degrees. I think our people do as good a job as anybody. They work very hard at it. You just hope your athletes take advantage of it."

Twelve Auburn players will play this season as graduates. Only cornerback David Irons among the graduates majored in sociology. There are no adult education majors.

Tuberville admitted the criticism and innuendo of the past month have been frustrating.

"Yeah, because that's the No. 1 reason (players) come here," Tuberville said. "We put a very high premium on graduation. We were the No. 1 public university in APR in football. I think a lot of people might have questioned that, but we'll stand on our success.

"We're not going to be the same every year, but our work ethic is going to be the same."

Irons, who overcame a learning disability to earn his degree, said the hardest part of the investigation was the questions about those with whom he worked in the academic program.

"There have been some down times that were stressful," Irons said. "I'm grateful to them for staying on top of me since I've been here. They are good people and hard workers. They work hard every day like we work hard. It was hard to see them accused of something like that."

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So, all of this was just a reporter that had an axe to grind? And AUBURN is STILL the 3rd ranked School in Educating their players? Gotcha! :big:

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When we continue to rate aong the highest, if not the highest of any public universtiy what excuse will they have? CTT will keep Auburn rated high in the APR and continue to bring repute to Auburn University for its high academic standards for athletes and non-athletes.

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