Just three months after Tennessee hired Rick Barnes to replace Donnie Tyndall, who was fired due to NCAA issues that he ran into at Southern Miss, Barnes is facing his own potential problems with the association.
On Wednesday morning, Brad Wolverton of the Chronicle of Higher Education published a story documenting allegations of academic impropriety under Barnes while he was the head coach at Texas. Three players were specifically involved: P.J. Tucker, J’Covan Brown and Martez Walker.
Walker was the most recent of the three accusations. According to Wolverton’s story, Walker was caught texting pictures of test questions to someone to get answers in the fall of 2013, when he was a freshman. He eventually passed the class and received a 3.0 GPA for the academic year, helping him land a spot on the Big 12’s Honor Roll. The major issue isn’t necessarily the cheating that occurred — Can you honestly tell me that you never cheated on a test while in high school or college? — it’s that a Texas academic advisor said, according to Wolverton, that the professor that caught him was “looking for guidance about how tough she should be on Mr. Walker.”
And that is what could end up being a potential sticking point for the NCAA.
Particularly when you factor in the other allegations in Wolverton’s story.
Wolverton cited a former tutor for Tucker that claimed that someone wrote a paper for Tucker after the then-junior forward had left school to prepare for the NBA Draft. The grade Tucker received for that paper helped Texas with their APR score, which had suffered in recent seasons.
Brown’s issues are two-fold. For starters, his former academic mentor told Wolverton that he had “he suggested words and ideas to help Mr. Brown do the work” and that while Brown typed every letter himself, “part of the work was not Mr. Brown’s”. This comes on the heels of a story that Wolverton wrote last December that claimed that Brown was one of a myriad of players that had only gotten eligible because a “fixer” had helped him pass online classes while he was in high school.
In and of itself, the accusations laid out in this story are likely not enough to get Barnes or Texas hit with any violations. The question is whether there is going to be anything else that gets dug up, as Texas is already investigating the previous accusations against Brown.