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Texas to review all academic support services for athletes

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — In the wake of allegations of misconduct within the men’s basketball program, new University of Texas President Greg Fenves has ordered a sweeping review of all academic services in the athletic department.

“Academic integrity is the core of everything we do,” Fenves said Tuesday.

Fenves had been on the job just a few days when the Chronicle of Higher Education last week reported allegations of misconduct involving three former men’s basketball players dating back to 2006.

The school immediately hired an outside investigator to probe the allegations, which Fenves said could take a “couple of months.” He said nothing has been discovered in the first few days of that investigation that he would consider a major concern.

Fenves was the school provost and oversaw admissions before he was promoted to president. Fenves said he had already wanted a broad review of academic support services and the Chronicle of Higher Education report “brought it front and center.”

“I take these allegations very seriously,” Fenves said.

The basketball investigation and the broader review will be led by Gene Marsh, a former chairman of the NCAA infractions committee. Having Marsh do both seemed logical to make a seamless process, Fenves said.

The scope and length of the broader review are still being determined, but it will include athletic admissions, academic counseling and selection of major courses of study, Fenves said. It will also review specific students, transcripts and course work, and will include a public report.

“I’m very proud of the academic success our students have had,” Fenves said. “This is just a thorough review to make sure we are doing everything we can to support the academic integrity of the program.”

Fenves defended Texas as a model program for other universities. Athletic director Steve Patterson said more than half of Texas’ approximately 500 athletes have a grade point average of 3.0 or higher and about 150 are at 3.5.

“All indications are everything is fine,” Fenves said.

In the report by the Chronicle of Higher Education, a former academic counselor said a math instructor told him she saw former basketball player Martez Walker cheating on an exam, and that Walker was allowed to pass anyway. Walker has since transferred. The counselor also said he believed former Longhorn P.J. Tucker received impermissible help with a paper while preparing for the NBA draft, and a former academic mentor said he helped write papers for former player J’Covan Brown.

That time span covers part of the tenure of former coach Rick Barnes, who was fired in March after 17 seasons. Barnes was then hired at Tennessee. Patterson said Barnes’ departure had “nothing to do with any academic issues.”

The basketball investigation and the broader review will be led by Gene Marsh, a former chairman of the NCAA infractions committee. Having Marsh, who will bill the school for hourly expenses, do both seemed logical to make a seamless process, Fenves said.

Fenves said he’s unsure if Marsh will try to speak with Barnes. The NCAA will have no role in the department review but will be kept informed, Fenves said.

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