SI Vault
Edited by Myra Gelband
December 24, 1979
Decrease font Decrease font
Enlarge font Enlarge font
December 24, 1979


View CoverRead All Articles View This Issue


In the wake of the scandals involving the "earning" of bogus credits by athletes at Arizona State and New Mexico, many universities and conferences are scrutinizing the academic records of all their athletes. And the FBI and NCAA are investigating the possibility that there is a flourishing industry in making athletes academically eligible by fraudulent means.

The investigations are aimed at uncovering the interrelationship of universities, junior colleges and off-campus extension programs, and the workings of what is increasingly being referred to as "the old boy network of coaches"—old friends at universities in different parts of the country who help each other out in the crucial business of keeping athletes eligible.

The NCAA has already investigated at least two individuals believed to be "brokers," middlemen who are in the business of getting needed credits for athletes, by using forged or doctored transcripts or by discovering snap summer courses, even easier correspondence courses or courses for which credit can simply be bought. In many cases, such courses are found in extension programs, which are offered by more than 300 universities. These are intended primarily for graduate students, most of them teachers who need the courses to maintain their certification. But because many of these courses can be taught in a church basement or someone's den and often are not carefully supervised by the sponsoring college, which can be thousands of miles away, a widening pattern of abuse is beginning to appear, a pattern that is eliciting "tip of the iceberg" comments in college athletic circles.

First came the revelation in November that eight Arizona State football players had received credit without having completed any work for an extension course taught in Los Angeles but held under the auspices of Rocky Mountain College of Billings, Mont. Next, New Mexico revealed that six of its basketball players had gotten credit for an extension course run in Sepulveda, Calif. by Ottawa ( Kans.) University, even though at least five of the players hadn't attended a class or done any course work. And a few days later, three New Mexico football players, three Oregon football players and a Utah basketball player also were discovered on the 49-student roll for the Ottawa course. But only one of the non-New Mexico athletes, Oregon freshman Paul Perez, was found not to have done work for the course. Curiously, officials at Utah and Oregon apparently understood that it was a correspondence course requiring only independent reading and a mail-in final. Ottawa officials protested that such an assumption was incorrect; attendance is always mandatory.

The FBI and NCAA want to know how these athletes were enrolled in the courses—and if and with whom deals may have been made to get them credits without doing any work. It is suspected that some of the paperwork was forged.

As these investigations began, Rocky Mountain announced it is abolishing its extension program and Ottawa said it will no longer offer physical education classes by extension. And, it was learned, Santa Clara stopped giving extension courses in 1976 after suspicions of similar irregularities on transcripts of athletes who took its courses were raised. The NCAA had also investigated at least one person connected with its extension program.

An ironic note: Utah basketball star Danny Vranes, who took the controversial Ottawa course, "Current Problems and Principles in Coaching Athletics," by correspondence, submitted as his only written work a 3�-page paper. Its subject? "Recruiting," says Vranes. "You know, all the hassles and pressures."


It's time again for New Year's resolutions; here's a sampling of what some people in sports are planning for 1980:

Continue Story
1 2 3 4 5