We've written several times recently about a variety of problems at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB), my former employer.
Now it looks like the university's most high-profile endeavor--the men's basketball program--might be facing an NCAA investigation.
Paul Finebaum, a Birmingham-based journalist and talk-radio host, reports today that UAB is about to receive an official letter of inquiry regarding alleged academic fraud. I was a guest on the Finebaum Show today and discussed the developing UAB story. We will provide a link to that conversation shortly.
Sources have told Legal Schnauzer that the inquiry dates to the end of Coach Mike Anderson's tenure (he's now at Missouri) and the arrival of current coach Mike Davis. NCAA investigators reportedly have visited with one of Davis' close personal associates.
The day got off to a rough start for UAB with reports that an arrest warrant had been issued for former football standout Will Dunbar. One of the Blazers' leading tacklers in recent seasons, Dunbar is charged with failing to register as a sex offender. In 2004, Dunbar was convicted of aggravated sodomy and rape of a 16-year-old girl in Fulton County, Georgia.
UAB is best known for its academic medical center. But because of the nature of sports, nothing has spread the university's name like the successful men's basketball program started in 1978 by former UCLA Coach Gene Bartow.
The brewing problems in athletics are just the latest of several storms that have developed on the campus under the leadership of President Carol Garrison. Others include:
* Numerous human-resources problems, including a number of lawsuits involving veteran faculty and staff members;
* Rampant research fraud that, according to court documents, was mostly covered up by U.S. Attorney Alice Martin, a George W. Bush appointee;
* UAB employees using state-owned equipment to send racist and homophobic e-mail messages, apparently with little or no punishment;
* The curious exit of UAB's human-resources director for what appears to be a lesser job at Wake Forest.
Also, Finebaum has publicly chided Garrison for her role in a scandal that resulted in the resignation of former University of Tennessee President John Shumaker.
Shumaker repaid UT some $30,000 for using the university airplane to make personal trips to Birmingham to visit Garrison. The two had worked together at the University of Louisville, and Shumaker's wife filed for divorce just as he was starting at UT.
Shumaker and Garrison shared a hotel room for three days at a conference in San Antonio, and Shumaker lied about the arrangement to Tennessee officials.