Fenves Commissions Independent Review of UT Athletics


UT’s Texas Athletics Student Services division will undergo an independent and complete review, as confirmed Tuesday morning in an announcement by UT president Greg Fenves.

The review, led by lawyer Gene Marsh, comes on the heels of allegations of academic impropriety in the men’s basketball program, though Fenves said that allegations published by the Chronicle of Higher Education last week were “merely a catalyst.”

“There was no specific issue that made me make the decision,” Fenves said. “I have been concerned in general with academic integrity since before I became president.”

Marsh had already begun investigating allegations that three men’s basketball players—Martez Walker, P.J. Tucker, and J’Covan Brown—had either cheated, received improper help, or had papers written for them, as reported last week by the Chronicle‘s Brad Wolverton. Fenves said that keeping Marsh on is “a more seamless process to segue into a separate review.”

Last year, a top official in the Athletics Student Services division was reprimanded for violating university purchasing policy. Randa Ryan, executive senior associate athletic director for student services, approved more than $20,000 in office decor purchases from an antique store that she owns. Executive senior associate athletic director Ed Goble was also reprimanded.

Academic integrity has been a hot-button issue in higher education recently, especially following the academic fraud uncovered at the University of North Carolina in October 2014.

Marsh’s review, which will include admissions, choice of majors, coursework, advising, and interactions between Athletics employees and faculty members, has not found anything yet. Fenves stated that Marsh has just begun reviewing the allegations from last week.

“It will be very thorough,” Fenves said.

Fenves also stressed that the university is not calling this an investigation, but rather a review, and that the NCAA has no direct role in the process.

“This is just a thorough review to prove we’re doing everything we can,” he said in his opening remarks. “This is not about any individual, it’s about our program. Everything is fine.”

Athletics director Steve Patterson echoed Fenves’ remarks, adding that Rick Barnes’ departure in March “had nothing to do with academics.”

When asked why Marsh was chosen to lead the review, Fenves said,  “He’s well-known in this area—a lawyer who specializes in the field.” Marsh was a member of the NCAA Division I Committee on Infractions from 1999-2008, including two years as chair.

The costs and time frame for the review have not been finalized, though Fenves confirmed that “the inquiry to previous allegations will already take a couple months.”

Photo courtesy UT-Austin


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