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Friday, July 14, 2006

Okay, I hate the Kings. Thanks, LA, for being the douchiest douches in the NHL. According to WTKA they've signed recruit Trevor Lewis, the 17th pick in the '06 draft, before he even reached Yost, severely damaging Michigan's chances to do anything this year. If I ever find myself in physical proximity to the Kings GM I am going to go Zidane on his ass. (Shoot the messenger @ Yost Built).

The puzzling lack of Auburn blogs is suddenly explained: no one who went to AU can read. Especially if he happens to be able to run over linebackers. The New York Times drops a bomb on the Tiger program with accusations that 18 academically tenuous players received 97 free credits from "directed reading" courses that were even jokier than Notre Dame's business administration program. To wit: read a book, write a 10-14 page paper that seems like English if you squint, and viola: three credits of "A."

Braves & Birds has an extensive post on the subject that lays out the situation. Key passage that's sure to lead to tremendous frustration whenever the NCAA gets around to dealing out punishment:

Based on the experience of the NCAA's investigation into Tennessee's grade-fixing scandal, I think the key question is ... : were these light reading classes only available to athletes? That's the important question from the NCAA's perspective. Tennessee got off the hook, despite hard evidence that players regularly had their grades changed to stay eligible, because they were able to convince the NCAA that regular students had the same ability to petition successfully to have their grades changed. Will Auburn be able to make the same showing?
The answer to this question is found in the NYT article:
Professor Petee’s directed-reading classes, which nonathletes took as well, helped athletes in several sports improve their grade-point averages and preserve their athletic eligibility. A number of athletes took more than one class with Professor Petee over their careers: one athlete took seven such courses, three athletes took six, five took five and eight took four, according to records compiled by Professor Gundlach. He also found that more than a quarter of the students in Professor Petee’s directed-reading courses were athletes.
... which is the same as saying that almost 75% of the people in the directed reading courses were not. The NCAA has an escape hatch here that they'll almost assuredly take despite the fairly obvious scam going on here, proving that the best way to cheat and not get caught is to further degrade the academic standing of your university by letting everyone cheat. I mean, this is obvious academic fraud:

Mr. Langenfeld then went to his academic counselor in the athletic department, Brett Wohlers, with a plea: “I got dropped from a class and need a class to stay eligible for the bowl game,” Mr. Langenfeld recalled in a recent telephone interview. “I need a class, and I’ll take any class right now. I don’t not want to play in my last bowl game.”

He said Mr. Wohlers told him about a “one-assignment class” that other players had taken and enjoyed. So in the “9th or 10th week,” Mr. Langenfeld said, he picked up a directed-reading course with Professor Petee. Semesters typically run 15 weeks.

Mr. Langenfeld said he had to read one book, but he could not recall the title. He said he was required to hand in a 10-page paper on the book. Between picking up the class and handing in the paper, he said, he met several times with Professor Petee in his office.

“I got a B in the class,” said Mr. Langenfeld, who started in the Sugar Bowl against Virginia Tech. “That was a good choice for me.”

The athletic department was involved in setting this class up and there is a clear pattern of abuse here; this passage and this passage alone should be sufficient for a major loss of scholarships and a severe bowl ban, in my opinion, especially given that Auburn gets in trouble about every other year because they just don't learn... or rather, they do.

By contrast, a friend of mine is a GSI (this is a fancy name for TA for those unfamiliar with Michigan nomenclature) had two Michigan players in class, one a star, last fall and reported that emissaries from the athletic department peered in the windows every week to make sure they were present and accounted for.

MNB and EDSBS also have takes on this Auburn thing; EDSBS commenters point out that this Petee guy is a Notre Dame grad. Ha!

Etc.: Rember Flozell Adams? Don't date him; Mike "Library" Cooper gets his day in court.