Report: UT basketball coach Barnes questioned on academic misconduct

KNOXVILLE (WATE) – Rick Barnes, head men’s basketball coach at the University of Tennessee, could face NCAA sanctions at the University of Texas at Austin.

The Chronicle of Higher Education reports of academic misconduct involving Barnes’ tenure at the university.

He began as head men’s basketball with the Longhorns in 1998 until March 2015.

Barnes replaced Donnie Tyndall who was fired after one year leading the Vols.

Previous story: Tennessee names Rick Barnes as new men’s basketball coach

Through a spokesperson, Barnes, who was fired from Texas in March after 17 seasons, denied knowledge of problems at the university, according to the report.

Barnes was as announced Tennessee’s head basketball coach in April.

The report expands on how the university has “appeared to let academically deficient players push the limits of its policy on academic integrity to improve the teams’ academic records.”

The NCAA has recently stepped up efforts to punish academic fraud.

One former academic mentor in the athletic department told The Chronicle that he had helped write papers for J’Covan Brown, a former guard. A tutor for P.J. Tucker, another onetime Longhorns player, said Tucker had received impermissible academic assistance while he was preparing for the NBA draft.

The University of Texas issued the following statement:

Academic integrity is at the core of The University of Texas. Our student-athletes’ academic progress rates are among the best in the nation. And we continually seek to foster an ethical culture that reduces the risk of wrongdoing, manages our internal controls, and responds to inappropriate conduct.

The university takes any suggestion of wrongdoing extremely seriously. We are always looking to identify problems that may exist and ways we can do better.

Working with external NCAA bylaw and academic compliance experts Gene Marsh and Geoff Silver, UT is investigating allegations raised by The Chronicle of Higher Education and has contacted the NCAA about them.

We determined that the university had no knowledge of two former student-athletes allegedly receiving improper help with high school coursework before they enrolled. We now are reviewing three other cases purported to have occurred over a nine-year period since 2006 to determine if any university or NCAA rules were violated and if any action is needed.

The university has no information that suggests former Men’s Basketball Coach Rick Barnes knew of or was involved in any academic improprieties.

President Gregory L. Fenves is actively working with his leadership teams in both Student Affairs and Athletics to pursue the highest levels of integrity for all UT students.

University of Tennessee Athletic Director Dave Hart issued a statement in support of Barnes:

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.’ 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.

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