Faculty seek larger role in athletic issues

by Erin Ghere

University faculty members are re-evaluating their roles and responsibilities in the wake of academic misconduct allegations against the men’s basketball program last winter.
In a soon-to-be-released report, the Faculty Consultative Committee will recommend faculty take a more active role in preventing academic fraud, said Fred Morrison, FCC chairman and law school professor.
First, faculty members must protect the academic integrity of the University, Morrison said. This role is purely academic, he added. Athletes and other students would be treated equally regarding cheating and other forms of academic misconduct.
“We’re the enforcers,” said history professor Sara Evans, former FCC chairwoman. “Certainly, we have some responsibility to make it less likely that people won’t (cheat) and get away with it.”
Additionally, under Big Ten rules, faculty members are responsible for overseeing athletic programs, Morrison said.
“It is a role overseeing how the athletic department operates, which includes nonacademic issues,” he said.
Evans said academic misconduct rips off other students and degrades the whole system. She said cheating is often hard to find, but faculty members need to follow up on their suspicions and impose consequences.
“I think it’s our obligation to report academic misconduct so it won’t be repeated,” she added.
But Evans said University administration needs to continue to back up faculty.
The FCC appointed a special faculty committee in July to analyze the athletic issues; address academic policies and standards; and review enforcement procedures for academic integrity.
The report has been divided into two parts, with the first portion to be released in mid-November and the second portion by Jan. 31, said Tom Clayton, who heads the subcommittee releasing the report.
Evans said FCC members were extremely concerned that academic misconduct could have occurred as frequently as is alleged in the men’s basketball program.
University President Mark Yudof expressed support for the FCC’s examination of the faculty role when Morrison met with him in August.
“Academic integrity must be upheld,” Morrison told the Board of Regents in a Sept. 9 report. “We must not, however, allow athletic issues to distract us from our main goals of teaching, research and service.”

Erin Ghere covers faculty and welcomes comments at [email protected] She can also be reached at (612) 627-4070 x3217.