by MATTHEW WATKINS
AUSTIN — The University of Texas at Austin has launched a broad investigation into the academics of its athletes after allegations that three of its basketball players cheated in recent years.
The review will go beyond the basketball program and look at all facets of the athletic department’s academic guidance and resources, university officials said. It will include inquiries into admissions, tutoring, course selection and more.
“This top-to-bottom review will help me fully understand all aspects of the academic mission of our athletics program,” said UT-Austin President Greg Fenves, who took over the job June 3. “Texas has always been dedicated to winning with integrity and putting the education of our student-athletes first. By conducting this review, we will strengthen these core values of the university.”
The review will be led by Gene Marsh, an Alabama lawyer who specializes in college athletics. Marsh had previously served on the NCAA’s infractions committee. It’s not yet clear how much the investigation will cost the school, or how long it will last.
The inquiry follows an article in the Chronicle of Higher Education last week alleging cheating by basketball players under former men’s coach Rick Barnes.
The article’s most serious allegation was that former basketball player Martez Walker was seen “snapping pictures of test questions on his phone and looking for answers from someone outside the classroom” during a final exam in a mathematics class, according to “two former academic advisers informed of the incident.” The course’s instructor contacted an athletic department liaison about the situation, and the liaison then passed the information up the chain to an associate athletics director, the article said.
UT-Austin officials haven’t commented on the accusations, saying they can’t discuss students’ academic records.
A conference call has been scheduled for Tuesday morning to discuss the investigation further.
MATTHEW WATKINS reports for The Texas Tribune where this story was originally published. It is made available here through a news partnership between the Texas Tribune and the San Marcos Mercury.
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