Minnesota and Tennessee aren’t that different cases

There’s been a lot of talk lately that the University is being too lenient on the basketball team and on the administrators involved.
Hold the phone.
ESPN.com reported two months ago that the University of Tennessee had a similar academic fraud situation with its football team. The problem dates back to 1995, when an instructor found the same paper was turned in by two football players. That instructor went on to estimate that one-third of the football team’s papers were plagiarized.
Sound bad? It gets worse.
Over the past four years there’ve been numerous internal memos that allege improper training and document a tutor’s firing for writing papers.
Hmm … tutors writing papers … where have I heard that before?
Of course, the university immediately launched an investigation, and heads rolled.
Or not.
Four players were suspended for one game in late September before being reinstated. After a month-long investigation, the university submitted its findings to the NCAA.
The university has gone so far as to say that everything — the tutors ignoring the honor code, a tutor being fired for a little too much help, players caught cheating — is A-OK.
Tennessee’s new president, J. Wade Gilley, told ESPN.com that no rules had been broken by the university.
“We have a very sound system, with seasoned people of integrity in place,” Gilley said.
Back here in Minnesota, people are calling for more heads to roll because of the basketball scandal. The scandal is horrible and the scandal is evil and we need to clean house.
Hold up.
Tennessee’s situation is very similar to Minnesota’s. Sure, there’s no newsroom sex appeal of a Jan Ganglehoff or a coach restructuring a tutoring program, but the elements are there.
Tutors overstepped their bounds in writing papers for the athletes, or even used the same papers twice. But what makes this situation even worse is the fact that the administration knew about it.
And people are calling for more sanctions at Minnesota?
Maybe Yudof should pull his finger off the “personnel changes” trigger and think about the grand scheme of things. He’s done enough to satisfy the NCAA people that he’s been in contact with. He’s done far more than anybody at Tennessee. Why should he have to do any more?
Are Minnesotans so hoity-toity that we’re going to punish the school above and beyond the NCAA?
Why set back the school’s athletic departments by firing Mark Dienhart and McKinley Boston? Clem Haskins, the root of the problem, is gone. I liked Clem, but he had to go.
I like Mac Boston too. Is he out the door? Well, he certainly should be held accountable, and he probably could have taken a swifter reaction to the scandal.
It’s possible that either Dienhart or Boston knew about the cheating. If they did, and if it can be proven they knew, they should be out. We can’t tolerate that.
But if they didn’t know, I’m inclined to let them keep working at the University. And while we’re talking about sanctions, let’s talk about these men’s basketball sanctions.
There’ve been articles, including one in Sports Illustrated, that mock Minnesota’s postseason ban. Why? Tennessee is a Bowl Championship Series contender, and nobody, not a blessed soul, has asked for Tennessee to “get real.”
Maybe Tennessee is taking the NCAA too lightly, but whatever the case, Mark Yudof should think very carefully before he overreacts.

Jim Schortemeyer is the sports editor and welcomes comments at [email protected].