By Ken Reed
Harvard University is investigating the possibility that nearly half the students in a Introduction to Congress course had committed “academic dishonesty” on a take-home final last spring, either by collaborating on the test with other students — despite explicit instructions from the instructor not to — or plagiarizing answers outright. Several of the students involved are reported to be varsity athletes at Harvard.
According to a New York Times article written by Richard Perez-Pena, “The course had a reputation for easy grading and little required effort, so it had a large contingent of student athletes looking to make room for their time commitment to sports, according to the students.”
The Introduction to Congress course had 279 students and well over 100 are under suspicion for cheating on the final. That would make this scandal Harvard’s largest case of cheating in memory, according to Perez-Pena. The students could face possible suspension from the school for a year if found guilty of academic dishonesty. As such, some of the suspected students have decided to take a leave of absence from the school rather than face possible suspension for a year. A Sports Illustrated report said that one of the students taking a leave of absence was Kyle Casey, a star basketball player for Harvard.
Harvard has been accused of loosening academic standards for star athletes in recent years. In particular, the Harvard basketball program under current head coach Tommy Amaker, a long-time assistant coach at Duke University, has been suspected of admitting athletes that wouldn’t qualify under standards for the rest of the student body. Amaker and Harvard officials deny the allegations but Pete Thamel, the writer who claimed Harvard lowered its academic standards for basketball players when Amaker arrived on campus sticks by his New York Times story:
“Harvard can play semantic gymnastics, but it was laid out to me convincingly and on the record that they were lowering standards,” according to Thamel. “And they’ve only made it worse by denying it. The point of those Harvard stories was that Harvard is playing ball like everyone else — loosening academic standards, sending an assistant out on unethical recruiting trips, and cutting recruited kids from the program in September without having them try out.”
Harvard’s not alone in terms of being accused of cutting standards for athletes in the Ivy League. Penn has long been charged with having an unfair advantage because of purported lower academic standards, and virtually all of the other Ivies have had similar accusations tossed their way at one time or another.
Amaker took Harvard to its first Ivy League title and NCAA tournament appearance. So, from one perspective, Harvard’s Amaker Experiment has paid off. But at what price?
To be sure, the win-at-all-costs mentality exists in the Ivy League, just as it does in all the big-time conferences. The question is to what degree.
It certainly isn’t safe any longer to point to the Ivy League as an example of college athletics done correctly.
— Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans
Sports Forum Podcast
Episode #10 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: An Issues Discussion With Paul Dolan – Dolan is the Cleveland Indians Owner and CEO. He discusses the use of Native American names and logos by sports teams and the decisions to drop the Chief Wahoo logo and the upcoming change to the team name. Other baseball topics include health and safety, possible MLB rule changes and youth participation in the sport.
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Episode #9 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Talking Sports Issues With Ralph Nader – Nader is a consumer advocate and was named one of the “100 Most Influential Americans of the 20th Century” by Time magazine. He is the founder of League of Fans.
Episode #8 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: How Can We Save College Sports From Overcommercialization and Professionalization? – The guest is Dr. David Ridpath, a sports business professor and past president of the Drake Group
Episode #7 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Brain Trauma and CTE Risk in Sports With Dr. Ann McKee – Dr. McKee works in the field of neuropathology and has demonstrated that “mild” repetitive head trauma can provoke chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a devastating neurodegenerative disease.
Episode #6 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: The Need for Quality Physical Education in Our Schools is Greater Than Ever – The guest is Clayton Ellis, one of our nation’s leading advocates for getting our young people to be more physically active.
Episode #5 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Youth Sports with Positive Coaching Alliance Founder Jim Thompson – Thompson started Positive Coaching Alliance (PCA) in 1998 to help create a movement to transform the culture of youth sports from “win-at-all-costs” to a positive, character-building experience.
Media"How We Can Save Sports" author Ken Reed appears on Fox & Friends to explain how there's "too much adult in youth sports."
Ken Reed appears on Mornings with Gail from KFKA Radio in Colorado to discuss bad parenting in youth athletics.
“Should College Athletes Be Paid?” Ken Reed on The Morning Show from Wisconsin Public Radio
Ken Reed appears on KGNU Community Radio in Colorado (at 02:30) to discuss equality in sports and Title IX.
Ken Reed appears on the Ralph Nader Radio Hour (at 38:35) to discuss his book The Sports Reformers: Working to Make the World of Sports a Better Place, and to talk about some current sports issues.
Sports & Torts – Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans – at the American Museum of Tort Law
League of Fans is a sports reform project founded by Ralph Nader to fight for the higher principles of justice, fair play, equal opportunity and civil rights in sports; and to encourage safety and civic responsibility in sports industry and culture.
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