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Black Eye for the Buckeyes
Don Yaeger
June 14, 1999
How Ohio State kept linebacker Andy Katzenmoyer eligible
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June 14, 1999

Black Eye For The Buckeyes

How Ohio State kept linebacker Andy Katzenmoyer eligible

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Minnesota isn't the only Big Ten school to have sullied its academic image in the past year. Last summer Ohio State was widely ridiculed for the smooth path to eligibility it paved for All-America linebacker—and noted classroom slacker—Andy Katzenmoyer, who needed to pull his overall grade point average up to 2.0 (C) during two five-week summer terms so he could suit up for his junior season. Katzenmoyer attained his goal by loading up on such easy-to-pass courses as AIDS: What Every College Student Should Know and golf.

SI has obtained copies of two anonymous letters—both signed "Sincerely, OSU Faculty"—that were sent to Ohio State president William Kirwin last summer and that offer new details about Andy's excellent academic adventure. "The special treatment football player Andy Katzenmoyer has received this summer in order to be academically eligible is ridiculous," said the first letter, dated Aug. 14. "Something is definitely wrong when the only grade given in [a mass communications course Katzenmoyer had taken in the first summer semester] is an A or A-for all 22 students enrolled, even though there was normal grade distribution/range for the course in previous quarters."

The letter also questioned how Katzenmoyer, who it claimed had earned a 1.72 average or lower in five of his seven semesters, was "suddenly able to perform at the scholar-athlete level (3.0)" for the first summer term, and how he'd been squeezed into the golf class, which was full.

The second letter, dated Aug. 24, asked how, eight weeks into the summer session, Katzenmoyer had been granted a grade change for an art education class he had failed the previous spring. "The academic integrity of this University has become a joke," the letter concluded.

Kirwin, who had a team of administrators investigate the claims, acknowledges that the basic facts in the letters were correct. He doesn't agree with the letter's interpretation, however. "I certainly don't think we're an academic joke," Kirwin says. "From everything I learned, nothing was done for Andy Katzenmoyer that can't be done for any other student of the university. Some will take those facts and see it one way. I saw that no rules or regulations were broken."

When asked by SI to explain the spate of As in Katzenmoyer's mass communications course, Presentational Speaking, the instructor, John Love, noted that there were "a fair amount" of athletes in the course. "This course is very performance-oriented, and athletes are used to the notion of executing and performing," Love said. When asked to explain why she had changed Katzenmoyer's grade from an E ( Ohio State's version of an F) to a C+ in the spring art course, Introduction to the Computer and the Visual Arts, teaching assistant Paula DiMarco said, "This is uncomfortable. I really don't want to talk." As for how Katzenmoyer got into the golf class, the graduate student who taught it is now in New Zealand and could not be reached.

"The only advantage Mr. Katzenmoyer may have had is that he has people looking out for him who know the rules of the university," says art education department chairman Jim Hutchens. "Grade changes are discussed in the university handbook. That others don't know that only means they haven't read the handbook. I don't think it's as suspicious as it may look."

Katzenmoyer, who was chosen 28th by the New England Patriots in this year's NFL draft and has left school, declined to be interviewed, but former teammate Damon Moore, a strong safety who was also on the verge of ineligibility last year before being propped up by summer classes, says the Big Kat didn't understand why his academic performance became a national joke. "I remember he was really put off by all the attention," says Moore, a fourth-round draft choice of the Philadelphia Eagles. "Not everyone comes to college to be in college. I'm that way, and Kat was pretty open about it, too. He was bothered by some people who asked about the grade change. Everybody gets grade changes. I've had some grades changed. Other people have, too. Now we're both headed to the NFL, which is what we came here to do."