Auburn hires firm to investigate academic fraud

Auburn hires firm to investigate academic fraud

Auburn is investigating whether part-time academic staffer took an exam for at least one football player, ESPN's Outside The Lines reports.

Since October 2009, Auburn has paid Lightfoot, Franklin & White more than $2.3 million - mostly in legal expenses related to the athletics department, according to University public records.

"It's simply not true".

This allegation is one of a number of active investigations into Auburn athletics.

The Birmingham law firm is already looking into the softball and men's basketball programs for unrelated issues.

Auburn Athletics said the tutor who is making the accusation in ESPN's story was a part-time employee placed on administrative leave in late August, and her story is false.

An athletic department spokesperson called the allegation of impropriety "false" in the university's official response. A tutor who works with that mentor became aware of the allegation in February while reviewing a football player's academic records and noticed that the player received a ideal score on the final exam just a few weeks into the course. Auburn also said the tutor signed 38 timesheets "stating that she has no knowledge or has not witnessed or assisted a student-athlete in participating in academic dishonesty" while the former football player allegedly involved "categorically denied any wrongdoing". "Neither she, her attorney nor our investigation have produced anything to support her claims".

The law firm was hired the same day the tutor reportedly received written notification of being placed on administrative leave. She has also signed compliance forms indicating no knowledge of wrongdoing. After hearing that, the tutor alerted the mentor's supervisor, the source said.

Associate head coach Corey Myers resigned from the program in March, and head coach Clint Myers abruptly retired in August.

Auburn confirmed the hiring of the same law firm last month to investigate the men's basketball program after the arrest of assistant coach Chuck Person, who charged Tuesday with six federal crimes including bribery conspiracy, solicitation of bribes and gratuities, conspiracy to commit honest services fraud, wire fraud, conspiracy to commit wire fraud and travel act conspiracy.

On Sept. 29, a report from AL.com claimed that Leath and Auburn's board of trustees had begun laying plans to remove athletic director Jay Jacobs from the position he has held since December 22, 2004.

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