Report: Academic misconduct occurred at Texas under Rick Barnes

Report: Academic misconduct occurred at Texas under Rick Barnes

June 10th, 2015 by Patrick Brown in Sports - College

FILE - In this Feb. 2015, file photo, Texas head coach Rick Barnes calls to his players during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Iowa State in Austin, Texas. Barnes, who shaped Texas into a national basketball power with three Big 12 championships and 16 NCAA Tournament appearances in 17 years, will be released after yet another quick exit from the postseason, people with knowledge of the decision told The Associated Press on Saturday. (AP Photo/Eric Gay, File)

Photo by The Associated Press/Times Free Press.

*Updated at 2:40 p.m. with a statement from Texas.*

*Updated at 4:05 p.m. with a statement from Tennessee athletic director Dave Hart*

KNOXVILLE -- A report by The Chronicle of Higher Education on Wednesday alleged multiple instances of academic misconduct occurred at Texas under basketball coach Rick Barnes, who was hired as Tennessee's new coach in March.

According to the report, two former academic advisors told The Chronicle that basketball player Martez Walker used his cell phone to snap pictures of test questions during a final exam in the fall of 2013 and seek help on answers from someone outside the classroom.

The Chronicle mentioned two other instances of possible misconduct.

One former academic mentor said Barnes helped former Longhorns guard J'Covan Brown write papers for courses, and a tutor for P.J. Tucker, the 2006 Big 12 Conference player of the year, said the current Phoenix Suns guard received impermissible academic assistance while he prepared for the NBA draft.

Texas launched an independent investigation into alleged academic misconduct in January after The Chronicle reported a so-called "fixer," a one-time academic advisor and college basketball coach helped players maintain eligibility by feeding them tests and occasionally taking classes for them.

Through a spokesman, Barnes "denied problems of knowledge," according to the report.

Texas released a statement on Wednesday afternoon that said it had no information suggesting Barnes "knew of or was involved in any academic improprieties."

According to the statement, Texas is reviewing three cases alleged to have occurred over a nine-year period since 2006 and has contacted the NCAA regarding the claims raised by The Chronicle report.

In a statement released later Wednesday afternoon, Tennessee athletic director Dave Hart was supportive of his new basketball coach.

"Obviously we can't talk about what happened in the past at another university, however as stated clearly by the University of Texas, 'The university has no information that suggests former men's basketball coach Rick Barnes knew of or was involved in any academic improprieties,'" Hart said in the statement.

"Coach Barnes has a sterling reputation as a person of very high ethical standards at every institution he has represented and we are excited to have him lead our men's basketball program."

It's unclear what will come from the report for Barnes and Tennessee. Should the NCAA choose to investigate the alleged violations, it's possible Barnes could face sanctions. The NCAA isn't looking into the claims by The Chronicle, according to the report.

Barnes replaced Donnie Tyndall, who was fired in March after one season amid an NCAA investigation into his former program at Southern Mississippi. Tennessee fired Tyndall because it believed the NCAA would charge him with major violations stemming from its investigation. The Volunteers went 16-16 last season.

Contact Patrick Brown at pbrown@timesfreepress.com.