Hart backs Barnes amid academic misconduct allegations at Texas

Hart backs Barnes amid academic misconduct allegations at Texas

June 11th, 2015 by Patrick Brown in Sports - College

Texas head coach Rick Barnes talks with his players during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Oklahoma State, Wednesday, Feb. 4, 2015, in Austin, Texas. Oklahoma State won in overtime 65-63. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

Photo by Eric Gay

KNOXVILLE — The University of Texas said it found no information suggesting new Tennessee men's basketball coach Rick Barnes had any involvement in or knowledge of academic misconduct that a Wednesday morning report from The Chronicle of Higher Education alleged to have occurred during Barnes' tenure with the Longhorns.

According to the report, two former academic advisers at Texas said basketball player Martez Walker used his cellphone to snap pictures of test questions and seek help from someone outside the classroom during a final exam for a remedial math class during the 2013 fall semester.

The Chronicle mentioned two other instances of possible misconduct.

One former academic mentor claimed 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, alleged the current Phoenix Suns guard received impermissible academic assistance while he prepared for the NBA draft.

In the report, Barnes "denied problems of knowledge" through a spokesman.

Tennessee athletic director Dave Hart issued a statement with strong support for Barnes later Wednesday afternoon.

"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.

University of Tennessee athletic director Dave Hart pauses as he speaks to reporters about the firing of head basketball coach Donnie Tyndall on Friday, March 27, 2015, in Knoxville.

University of Tennessee athletic director Dave Hart pauses...

Photo by Associated Press /Times Free Press.

"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."

In its response to the initial report, which delved into the relationship between academic personnel and the athletic department in Austin, Texas said it was reviewing three cases alleged to have occurred over a nine-year period since 2006 and has contacted the NCAA regarding the claims made by The Chronicle report.

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

For Barnes and Tennessee, it's unclear what will come from the claims and the ensuing internal investigations. Barnes could face sanctions from the NCAA if the governing body elects to launch an investigation at Texas and discovers violations. No investigation is underway at this point.

There doesn't seem to be much concern from Tennessee's perspective regarding any long-term implications from Wednesday's report.

In March, Barnes replaced Donnie Tyndall, who was fired after just one season as coach amid an NCAA investigation into his former program at Southern Mississippi.

Tennessee fired Tyndall because it believes he will be charged with major rules violations by the NCAA stemming from the investigation. The Volunteers went 16-16 in their lone season under Tyndall.

Contact Patrick Brown at pbrown@timesfreepress.com.


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