Friday, July 14, 2006

Auburn Sociology Professor Alleges Special Treatment for Athletes

Auburn University is back in the news with more bad press. Certainly Bobby Lowder and some of the other idiots down there deserved attention yet I'm disappointed by this AJC piece from Bill Sanders entitled "Auburn investigates allegations - Professor: Athletes got high grades in class that required no attendance and little work". I'm counting 50 plus Google News hits so far, including The New York Times piece that was painfully detailed.

Dr. James Gundlach alleges Dr. Thomas Petee has been too easy on certain student athletes in his "directed reading" classes. I'm not so sure I'd want to air issues with my department chair in thenewspaper yet certainly not about one who is an expert in homicide! Telling a journalist he's "groupie-esque around athletes" might make for plenty of tension up on the seventh floor of Haley Center.

I've taken a graduate seminar with Dr. Petee some years back and found him to be fair and reasonably demanding. He was always willing to talk at length about school violence issues even when I was not in his class/department. I've known of Dr. Gundlach merely by name and face yet can't offer any opinion one way or the other beyond the belief that roasting coffee beans like this seems to be far too much hassle. Certainly if he's concerned he ought to have gone forward at AU yet I'd have preferred this news coverage to have been limited until after the investigation is complete.

I know this mess goes on yet I'm thinking Dr. Petee will be cleared or perhaps merely scolded by the investigation. If he's done wrong then I hope and trust AU will solve the problem. If folks in the athletic department were in on the fix then they better have consequences as well. I agree that athletics often does seem to come first down on The Plains yet I saw little if any evidence when I was down there of professors gaming the system. I also knew plenty of athletes that worked hard to earn their grades. Some were slackers I'm sure but the guys and gals I knew down there took care of their academics.

It saddens me when an intitution and people you respect face troubles. Peace ... or War!