Allegations

Sarah McKenzie

and Nicole Vulcan
Elayne Donahue, former head of the University’s athletic academic counseling unit, spoke under oath to investigators for the first time Monday.
Last week, she came forward with a 20-page report detailing the alleged academic improprieties within the men’s basketball program. In the report, Donahue claims professors and administrators changed grade bases from A/F to S/N for players long after posted deadlines.
Prior to the news conference, attorney Jim Lord’s office mistakenly distributed documents that named players and their respective grades compiled through winter quarter 1998. Lord represents Donahue and former tutor Jan Gangelhoff.
The report revealed that two players’ cumulative grade point averages dipped well below a 2.0 average. One player’s cumulative average sunk as low as 1.55 through winter quarter 1998.
Though Donahue’s documents reveal the players’ grades to be sub-standard, Lord stressed that the grades were only calculated through winter quarter 1998.
The players had spring quarter and the two summer sessions to raise their gpa’s and remain eligible.
In order for an athlete to stay eligible, the University requires a 1.8 gpa after the player’s first year and a 2.0 in the ensuing years.
Coach Clem Haskins said he couldn’t comment for this story.
Big Ten rules stipulate athletes must earn a gpa of 1.65 after their first year, 1.8 after their second year and 2.0 after their third year, said Chris Schoemann, director of the University’s Athletic Compliance Office.
“Their winter quarter grades were horrible, which would have brought down their grade point averages,” Lord said. “But if you had to ascertain the eligibility for the spring quarter, they would not have been eligible.”
In her report released last week, Donahue outlined and provided documentation that pointed to the same player who had the 1.55 cumulative gpa having his grade system changed from A/F to S/N after the posted deadline. The alleged change was made for the grades recorded in fall quarter 1997.
One player whose cumulative gpa was 1.67 in winter quarter 1998 would have had to earn a 3.02 gpa in 36 total credits during spring and summer to raise his gpa to an eligible standard.
Donahue left her position at the University last June after 10 years, which she described as a time when “academic fraud flourished.”
Despite sending several memos to administrators urging them to look into problems within the basketball program, Donahue said her warnings went unheeded.
“I felt like I was the only person standing on an island,” she said Monday at the news conference. Donahue added she hopes she has talked about men’s basketball for the last time.
Though a court reporter dictated Donahue’s testimony, a National Collegiate Athletic Association investigator did not question her because she did not sign a “non-disclosure” waiver. The waiver would have restricted Donahue’s ability to discuss the issue with people outside of the investigation.
“The investigators were thorough and fair, but never dug at the truth,” said Donahue’s attorney Jim Lord. “If they were seeking the truth, they would have taken the testimony under oath.”
Donahue wrote in a report that nine basketball players earned University grades averaging 1.99 for winter quarter 1998. The Big Ten calculated the same grades at 1.64 — a method that counts incompletes as F’s and courses outside of the students’ majors.

— Staff Reporter Mark Baumgarten contributed to this report