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Sunday Morning Quarterback

Sunday Morning Quarterback

Monday, July 17, 2006

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Mere days after blowing up his university's athletic department, sociology department and general academic integrity in the pages of the most widely read and influential newspaper in the country, Auburn professor James Gundlach told a university investigative committee and The Huntsville Times Sunday the whistleblowin' scene is, like, dead, man:

"The committee has been in touch with me asking to meet with them tomorrow," Gundlach said Sunday in an interview with The Huntsville Times. "I e-mailed them and said my cooperation with them is over."

Gundlach said he made his decision after reading a report in Friday's Huntsville Times that administration officials said he was motivated, at least in part, to make his allegations in a story released Thursday by The New York Times because he was passed over when Petee, a criminology professor, was promoted in 2002.

Gundlach said Sunday he never wanted the job and never told university officials he did.

"The only university officials I've talked to about this since the (New York) Times reporter first appeared on campus are two members of the committee that is supposed to investigate," Gundlach said. "I remember, at one time in that meeting, one of the two people asked me if I had supported Petee when he ran for chair. I said no, and we moved on.

"What seems to me is that somehow information from that got passed on somehow or someway to people that certainly shouldn't have been talking to you about what I said at that meeting. They are saying no talking until it is quiet, but apparently somebody on that committee and other people at the university saw fit to use that to, in effect, discredit me.

"It's a total falsehood. The only contested office I ran for was director of sociology, and I won that. There are no sour grapes here. It was a total fabrication."

Though the controversy has swirled around football players who took so-called "direct reading" or "directed study" courses under Petee, Gundlach said his main motivation was that Petee is "unfit as a department administrator."

"I have never said this was something that was done specifically for athletes," Gundlach said. "My concern was that the athletes were something that was going to call attention to it and lead to embarrassing situations. If the athletes weren't there, nobody would care.

"Since I've been thinking about the athletic rules and other such things, it is clear that everything Petee did for athletes was also available for other students. In terms of the letter of NCAA regulations, there are probably no problems."
(emphasis SMQ's)

Gundlach's retiring soon, and, man, is he burning bridges with everybody. Good thing he thought about "the athletic rules and other such things" before he took it someplace like The New York Times. Wait, what? Oh.

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I said what? To who? Eh, changed my mind.

This news es goot, veddy goot for the university and athletic department, as their accusor is essentially admitting he succumbed to professional and personal motivations of the petty academic ego. Anyone who's been embroiled in even minor campus controversy, as SMQ has, should familiar with this sort of response from professors; he was pissed at his boss.

Initially, that anger seemed justifiable and born of integrity. Maybe it still is. Except now, he's backtracking, ex-players are falling over each other to deny his charges and major schools everywhere hold their breath hoping this case becomes one of personal animosity and blows on over (check your media guides and programs for player majors, fans - odds are they're clustered in one or two fields. At Southern Miss, it was Coaching and Athletic Administration, where a disproportionate number of athletes actually makes sense, and Criminal Justice). This one's already going overboard on ambiguity and conjecture, and getting stickier fast.

This post also appears at Every Day Should Be Saturday
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11:41 AM

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And don't let the name fool ya - second guessing the phenomenal athletic feats and split-second decisions of college kids under extreme physical duress is for every day of the week.

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