Other side of Bowl Ban by Bob Ryan

The NCAA ruled this week that Mizzou would not be permitted to accept a bowl bid. The Mizzou athletic staff seemed genuinely surprised by the decision. Their feeling was that Mizzou had cooperated with the NCAA fully. So, a severe penalty would not occur. MU expected a milder, if any, penalty from the NCAA for their “cooperation” I’ve been down this road previously…trying to present the other side of the story since the local StL paper has presented only MU’s side ….

….however, prior to looking at details of this particular situation, my common sense tells me that his isn’t a unique situation in D-1 football or basketball programs. Have you listened to any of those monosyllabic interviews with some of these players? But…the pressure of huge payouts from bowl games & television to colleges… seemed to have…from my far-away perspective…..pushed a true collegiate education… designed to provide life time skills & knowledge to sustain yourself and a family….to the back-burner for some of the larger “big-time” sports schools.

…According to the KC Star, on Nov 2, 2016 Yolanda Kumar said she reported her “academic dishonesty” during an 18-minute phone call Nov. 2 with Mary Ann Austin, Mizzou’s executive associate athletic director for compliance. Kumar had worked as a tutor for Mizzou on/off during the past 6 years. She indicated that she had been “groomed” to help keep athletes eligible (primarily basketball & football). Since Kumar started work for the program in 2010, she said she tutored hundreds of Mizzou athletes. But 15 cases, she said, involved serious academic fraud. “Either, I completed an online class, I took a placement test, I assisted with the placement test,” she said, “or I was present during your online assessment and you asked me questions while you were taking the online assessment.” Kumar said SHE reported her actions after reaching a breaking point. She said she participated in at least a dozen serious cases of academic fraud involving both men’s and women’s athletes during a 16-month period. “I was at my wit’s end,” Kumar said. “I had pretty much had enough, and I felt good that I had told her.” Mizzou athletic director Jim Sterk announced 5+ hours later that it had “received allegations of potential academic rules violations” and opened an investigation. Kumar continued in her interview with the KC Star about a particular student, “A men’s athlete had been placed with Kumar last summer for help in a core class that she was told he needed to graduate. “I did everything I could and he passed,” she said, “but he really was struggling with very basic things that my eighth-grader could do.” When the athlete needed additional help to stay eligible this fall, he was again placed with Kumar for help with an online statistics class. “It’s taken almost four weeks for him to even understand it. … I looked at him,” Kumar said as she burst into tears, “and he was so depressed that he couldn’t do it.” Her voice now cracking, she repeated, “He couldn’t do it. “No matter how many times I told him, how many examples I gave him, he couldn’t do it. It was just doing adding. That was all he had to do was add it up, and he couldn’t do it. It was me. I was looking at what I had done, because I helped this. I didn’t start it with him. I wasn’t the person who pushed him through high school. I didn’t get him this far in college, but I did this. I helped with this test. This kid was going to fail and it was my fault, too.” Kumar said the athlete was despondent because he couldn’t keep up with his coursework. She brought it up with his academic coordinator, who said he was advised to meet with a school psychologist, but nobody could force him to go. She continued her story with another specific incident,” After becoming a full-time adjunct statistics instructor and part-time math instructor during the 2011-12 academic year, Kumar stopped working as a tutor. She briefly left Columbia after the spring semester, but returned in fall 2012 and resumed tutoring. That’s when the grooming started, as she puts it. “You’re just groomed,” Kumar said. “It’s just something that’s understood and the next thing you know, the same person keeps sending you students with the same situation. … I was put in a situation where I felt harassed to do certain things.” Kumar declined to name specific athletes or staff members because she expects to be asked to testify in the NCAA investigation. However, she said she can document each case of alleged academic fraud. “At some point, I realized this might come back to bite me,” Kumar said. “There’s classes, semesters, students.” Kumar said her “first inkling” that she was doing more than tutoring came when she had a student who stopped going to a math class. “I taught him the entire course, because he missed it,” she said. “He wasn’t a low-functioning student; he was a high-functioning student, but he just wasn’t motivated to sit through that lecture.”(go to class).

…In another example, Kumar points to another case in 2015, when she was called to a special meeting to discuss how to help a football player stay on track with summer courses while he was ill with the mumps. “He needed to pass a finance class to be eligible, so I helped him,” she said. “He wrote down his username and password. His coordinator knew about it, saying help him with whatever.” Roughly a month later, with that athlete playing football again, Kumar received a call from the basketball academic coordinator to help what she called “two high-profile athletes” with an online class.

“Next thing you know, I have passwords to these two students’ accounts and I’m helping them,” she said. “I took their first test, because it was non-proctored.” In another case, Kumar said, an athlete’s coordinator told him to work with Kumar on a class he previously failed and stressed to her that all his exams were online. “I don’t know how it got so bad, but most of my students were coming from those two people in the revenue-generating sports,” she said. “Then, there’s someone telling you, ‘He needs this class to pass. Do you understand? He has to have this class to pass, Yolanda.’” At some point, Kumar said she completed an online course for two basketball players, taking the tests online and doing the written work in the class’ online discussion boards. It was something where the coordinator said he has to pass this class — ‘If he doesn’t pass, he can’t play. Yolanda, he needs to do this,’” Kumar said. “And I’m thinking, ‘OK, but he can’t (pass),’ only to hear, ‘Yolanda, we need to do whatever it takes.’ I took that definitely to mean that you need to finish this for him, because he has work that is due.”  …You get the idea….just like she did….and the NCAA did.

….Some Mizzou fans keep bringing up the N. Carolina episode…i.e. Students could just walk into the class, sign in, walk out and get a passing grade. Why no punishment for the Athletic department?  Because… ALL students at NC receive the same treatment….unbelievably, fake credit.. in that class…it wasn’t “special” for the athletes. NCAA isn’t responsible for bad schools.

…Let’s be totally honest…this 2019 Mizzou team wasn’t really a bowl team anyway….their 6-6 record with 1 win over a D-II school and 5 other wins all over teams under .500 for the season.

…I feel sorry for Barry Odum….this was his dream job. He seemed like a nice guy who threw himself into his job. But, it was his FIRST NCAA-Head Coaching Position. I’ve indicated that I thought he needed more experience prior to jumping into the SEC deep waters of high expectations. With the dwindling attendance, lack of bowl money, it….as always it seems…it comes down to money…he was fired despite getting a contract extension just last year! Speaking of money, Odum was the lowest paid SEC Head Coach. MU better get ready to “buck up” this time…often, you get what you pay for.

…Bama’s soft schedule with few..if any.. close games… catches up to them as Auburn edges them 48-45 in a wild offensive game. The final series capped it off…. on 4th & 4 from deep on their end with under a minute to play…Auburn lined up quickly as if they were “going for it”. Alabama substituted & resubstituted late..too late.. and was called for too many players on the field…1st down Auburn…game

…I’m just wondering if all these Blues injuries are due…at least in part….to the short summer to completely heal up from 1 season and get ready for the next season?  Just wondering….

….My top 4 NCAA-F teams this week….1) LSU  2) Ohio State   3) Clemson  4) Utah

….Counzo Martin has the Tigers (2-2)playing a well-rounded pre-conference schedule…couple cupcakes, couple real teams. He has to find a way to keep Jerimiah Tilmon on the court against good teams. Tilmon continues to get into early foul trouble against talented opposing players, as he has done throughout his MU career. This is a key year for Martin, his 3rd year…in his first 3 head coaching positions (MO State, Tennessee, California), he left after 3 years.

…Ohio State’s demolition of Michigan 56-27 must have some of the Wolverine fans/boosters wondering if Coach Harbaugh will ever….or eventually ..lead them to a Big 10 title.

That’s my side of the story….love to hear your thoughts….directly on FB, Prepcasts or an email to me.

Comments

  1. I agree with our Blog author, Mizzou was not a Bowl Team.
    I also agree that Coach Odom appears to be a good guy who really cares about his players & his alma mater.

    It’s sad to say, but recruiting athletes that can’t handle basic liberal arts curriculum…. move on!
    I’m sure the sketchy tutoring goes on everywhere, but it doesn’t make it right or smart to do. A 5-1 record finishes at 6-6. AD had little choice. Alum donors have little patience. The program lacks national cache, and a rebuild is apparent.

    Mizzou has been touting how a tattered basketball program was able to recruit Cuonzo Martin. I believe he has some local ties which brought him back to Como… not so much a great, high paying job!
    Unless they hire another coordinator, they better plan on backing up the Brinks Truck for their next hire.

    Watching some exciting college football this weekend makes the pro game a cure for insomnia.

    SLU Basketball has been a local highlight this fall & the Blues are playing well!

    C’ mon Mizzou… gives us a product we can get excited about! ( I wear a Mizzou sweatshirt to the gym & get teased for being a fan) JP1

  2. Very good inside to Mizzou’s probation, information not found anywhere else.
    We discussed this before. I’d prefer Josh Heupel be the next coach, JB

  3. You will never here the local cheerleading media speak on this. Thank you AH
    Thanks!

  4. GREAT research as always…. Very interesting. I am betting there is not an NCAA high profile Division I school who doesn’t do the same thing. Mizzou was just turned in.
    But I still say the NCAA is a joke. So pompous.. So Inconsistent. Does not seem to be about “the kids, sports and education. Just the money. JP2

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