BATON ROUGE, La. — Louisiana State University has settled a lawsuit from one of two former instructors who said they were pressured to change football players’ grades and hide academic misconduct several years ago.
The school continues to deny wrongdoing, and settled to avoid the expense of further litigation by Tiffany Terrell Mayne, a three-sentence news release from LSU said. It did not give any details of the settlement. It settled in December with the other instructor, Caroline Owen. She got $150,000 and letters of recommendation.
The two kinesiology instructors sued in 2002, saying they were pressured to change players’ grades and hide their cheating during the 2000-01 school year to keep players eligible for the Peach Bowl. After investigating the allegations, LSU admitted five secondary NCAA violations, transferred the former head of the Academic Center for Student Athletes and moved control of the center from the athletic department to the provost.
Under self-imposed penalties accepted by the NCAA, LSU lost two football scholarships for its 2005 signing class and forfeited four official visits that prospective football recruits could make during the 2003-04 recruiting season.
The university was never put on probation, which might have subjected it to the NCAA’s “death penalty” — a suspension of play — because the school was on probation in men’s basketball at the time of the football infractions. Mayne claimed in her lawsuit that she gave failing grades to 10 football players in a fall 2000 kinesiology introductory course. Those 10 football players got extra credit through a special post-semester study session designed to raise their grades and keep them eligible for the Peach Bowl in Atlanta. The Tigers defeated Georgia Tech in that game 28-14.
Owen said that when she told kinesiology department head Amelia Lee that she believed papers she had graded were plagiarized, she was told the papers were those of football players and that she “needed to keep the matter quiet and not discuss her findings with anyone else.” NCAA enforcement officials interviewed Owen and Mayne, both of whom said they got hate mail and death threats for reporting the alleged violations.
Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press