Thursday, April 4, 2013

New Report Reveals That Alabama Coach Nick Saban Stood Watch Over An Academic Scandal At LSU

Nick Saban
University of Alabama football coach Nick Saban presided over an academic scandal that mostly was covered up at LSU in 2001-02, according to a new report from USA Today.

The Saban revelations are part of an investigative series about NCAA President Mark Emmert. Before assuming his current position, Emmert served as chancellor at the University of Connecticut and LSU. USA Today reports that Emmert played a prominent role in limiting damage from an academic scandal that happened on Saban's watch at LSU.

Saban's connections to scandal should not come as a surprise, given that he was brought to Alabama by a man with documented ties to massive insurance fraud. Saban was head coach at LSU from 1999 to 2004 and won one national championship before leaving to spend two seasons as head coach of the Miami Dolphins in the National Football League. He became Alabama's coach in November 2006 and has led the Crimson Tide to national titles in 2009, 2011, and 2012.

Paul Bryant Jr., the current president of the University of Alabama Board of Trustees, played a major role in luring Saban to Tuscaloosa. Bryant, the son of late Hall of Fame Coach Paul "Bear" Bryant, long has been considered one of the most powerful boosters in college athletics. Despite his role as head of UA's governing body and kingmaker in the athletics program, Bryant Jr. keeps a low profile, rarely granting interviews.

That might be because of ugliness in his past as CEO of Greene Group Inc., an umbrella firm for Bryant's business interests in casino management, dog tracks, catfish farming, ready-mix concrete, and insurance.

Alabama Reassurance, one of Bryant's companies under Greene Group, was implicated in a $15-million insurance-fraud scheme that drew a 15-year federal prison for a Philadelphia-based lawyer/entrepreneur named Allen W. Stewart. The case was tried in 1997, with Stewart found guilty on all counts, and he only recently was released from prison. Bryant, meanwhile, managed to escape scrutiny, even though an Alabama-based probe was planned if the Pennsylvania case resulted in convictions. (A court document from the Allen W. Stewart case can be viewed at the end of this post; a footnote on page 11 outlines Alabama Re's connections to the case.)

G. Douglas Jones, a UA graduate who has done legal work for Bryant, had been named U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Alabama by the time the Stewart case drew to a close. Once Jones took office, the planned Alabama Re investigation mysteriously was canceled. We have asked Jones multiple times about his apparent role in protecting Paul Bryant Jr. from a federal investigation, and Jones has refused to answer our questions.

The bottom line? Public documents show that scandal lurks in the background of Alabama's lead trustee and No. 1 football booster. Thanks to USA Today, we now know that scandal also has touched Nick Saban, the coach Paul Bryant Jr. helped bring to UA. Here is how reporter Brent Schrotenboer describes Mark Emmert's role in covering up the academic scandal at LSU:

At LSU, an academic fraud scandal emerged in the football program under then-coach Nick Saban in 2001-02. Emmert oversaw an investigation into the allegations made by a university instructor that eventually acknowledged five minor and isolated violations and declared most of the claims "unfounded."

Emmert even met on LSU's behalf with the NCAA, which accepted LSU's findings. But after Emmert decided to leave LSU in 2004, a witness testified in a deposition that the instructor was telling the truth and that the problems were far more systemic than the school admitted, even extending to grades being changed for football players, according to court records.

Court records show that grades were changed for football players while Nick Saban was head coach at LSU? Amazingly, the Alabama mainstream press, so far, has not picked up on this story.

How bad was LSU's academic environment while Saban was football coach? From USA Today:

The culture was "appalling" and "like Romper Room," the employee said in 2004 testimony.

Mark Emmert
According to USA Today, Emmert became a "God-like figure" at LSU, partly because of his ability to raise money and boost the football program:

At LSU, Emmert made changes to help turn around the football program, saying "success in LSU football is essential for the success of Louisiana State University."

He hired Saban as coach in 1999 and helped make him the nation's highest paid coach ($2.3 million) after the Tigers won the BCS championship in January 2004. Two years earlier, Emmert himself had become the nation's highest-paid head of a public campus when his compensation was increased to about $500,000, a portion of which was paid by the Tiger Athletic Foundation.

Supporters justified his salary in part because he oversaw a fundraising drive that was on its way to bringing in $255 million.

Public records, however, show that football success came at the expense of academic integrity:

Scandal broke in 2001-02. A university instructor accused the school of having systemic academic fraud in its football program, including plagiarized papers on bobsledding players were turning in and un-enrolled students showing up to take notes for football players, who often slept through class. A graduate assistant also spoke out about the plagiarism problem.

At the time, LSU already was on NCAA probation for a recruiting scandal in men's basketball that happened prior to Emmert's arrival. Findings of more major violations typically would trigger harsh penalties.

Led by Emmert, LSU investigated the fraud allegations and said they found only five minor isolated problems, resulting in a self-imposed penalty of two lost scholarships in football. "Despite isolated incidents, the allegations were largely unfounded," says LSU's 82-page report on the allegations.

Court documents eventually would show that the incidents were not "isolated," and the allegations were not "largely unfounded":

The NCAA accepted LSU's findings in May 2004 and declined to put the school on probation. But the two female accusers had sued LSU, claiming they were forced from their jobs at the university in retaliation for blowing the whistle on the powerful football program.

Shortly after the NCAA case was settled and Emmert announced he was leaving for Washington, another LSU academic counseling employee backed up the women's claims under oath, saying there were numerous examples of favoritism for football players in academics, including changed grades and having papers typed for them, according to court documents obtained by USA TODAY Sports.

LSU later paid the two women more than $110,000 each to settle their lawsuits.

Did Mark Emmert conduct a serious investigation of Nick Saban's football program? It doesn't look like. From USA Today:

A person who worked for LSU as an academic counselor in athletics at the time told USA TODAY Sports the investigation was a whitewash designed to minimize damage. The person asked not to be identified for fear of reprisals.

"They'd interviewed the people they wanted to," the person said. "It was typical, let's get together and do damage control and construct a narrative that will allow us to say, 'OK, we've done something wrong here, but it ain't that bad.'"

The attorney for the accusers, Jill Craft, told USA TODAY Sports, that "LSU's self-report was way downplayed to what they were originally told and what my clients reported. In fact, the evidence that shook out over time revealed that the academic issues, especially in football, were systemic."

What could this mean for Saban and Alabama? John Pennington, of the Web site Mr. SEC, touched on that question in a post titled "USA Today Digs Into Emmert, Digs Up Issues For LSU, Saban." From Pennington:

Whether Emmert was guilty of a cover-up or not, LSU is back in the news today. So is Nick Saban, who will have to answers about this situation and how it might pertain to his current program at Alabama.


Anonymous said...

This man could commit murder at half time in front of the entire crowd and they would turn their heads and not see anything for the love of their GOD FOOTBALL.

And by the way what happened to that mess of a daughter he had that beat up the sorority sister admitted it and then went to anger management then now says she did not do it?

It is a shame that kids can be raped by Sandusky and whatever any winning coach does it ok.. as long as they keep winning we can sweep in under the rug . No wonder our society is so screwed up.

Anonymous said...

Legal Schnauzer is the only male journalist in the state of Alabama who is willing to tackle the subject of men, colleges, universities and their sport, football. My applause to Legal Schnauzer aka Roger Shuler.

The sports industry and college sports is a cesspool of abuse and needs a light shone upon it. The coaches who make way more than they should so that the universities can get even bigger donations from the egocentric moneyed elite has become the norm and what the university works for.

When colleges allow their product to go from education to a money making machine for their ath coaches in football and basketball, the interest of educated graduates becomes less important as sports takes the highest honors. Businessmen, corporations,and banks should keep their hands out of the colleges and universities for their own enjoyment and PR. And coaches, such as Mr. Saban, should have to work for an hourly wage instead of the millions bestowed upon him for running the football machine at University of Alabama. Imagine what a university with a history of turning out young graduates with degrees that really mean something in the world today would do for Alabama.

Anonymous said...

When is going to report on this?

legalschnauzer said...

Anon at 10:33--

I still don't see an report on Saban story. Will keep looking.

It does, however, have a story about Selena Roberts' report yesterday on alleged grade-changing, etc., in Auburn's football program:

Anonymous said...

What do academics have to do with college football? Nick Saban wins titles, that's all I care about.

legalschnauzer said...

A tough couple of days for Alabama's powerhouse football programs. In addition to the Saban-related allegations, we have reports regarding unethical conduct at Auburn. Here is the original Auburn report, from the relatively new sports Web site, Roopstigo, launched by former Sports Illustrated reporter Selena Roberts:

Anonymous said...

How did a guy like Bryant Jr. ever get on the BOT. Even a lot of Bama fans know he's a crook and a thug.

Bo said...

Saban doesn't look good in this, but the NCAA president looks really bad.

Anonymous said...

Do you think it's possible Bama's ever used a player who was academically ineligible during the Saban era?

Anonymous said...

Sadly, academia is filled with con men (and women) like Mark Emmert. I've seen many of them throughout my career, and they tend to be the type who gravitate toward top positions.

Anonymous said...

7:40's comment very good. 10:39's is what is wrong with the world today. Too much sports therefore a lot of ignorance! More emphasis on playing any sport than studying and applying yourself to make something out of yourself in this world. Like I said 10:39 is a prime example of the ignorance showing today due to lack of educational training. Probably wearing a wife beater tshirt with a huge beer belly!

jeffrey spruill said...

So is Nick Saban, who will have to answer about this situation and how it might pertain to his current program at Alabama.


Paul Byrant Jr. will pull Saban's well paid butt outta this one too.

Just watch!!!

Anonymous said...

Sports are also the caldron for our pressure cooked into dumb, but of course.

Schools fail the future, naturally the agenda is well planned.

Roman circuses have been able to hypnotize masses for a long time, not so much these days regardless of the hard sell.

"Sports," are about the "rich" getting the multitudes to be both determined to be THE super powers and also to be rich, famous, eternally a name living in glory.

Working the planet for centuries and longer.

Wonder what the USA would do without Rome's circus model?

Anonymous said...

ESPN, Dan Patrick, Mike and Mike, Cowherd, Tim Brando, etc.......none of them have picked up on this article. What the heck!? The Legal Schnauzer has more credibility than Ms. Roberts. None of the Alabama state media has picked up on this. How about it

Anonymous said...

That is what those bammers like, crooks and thugs.

e.a.f. said...

It is unlikely anything will ever be done about "sports" in universities. However, it would be nice if they simply put a cap on salaries for staff, along with "bonuses". The money raised by these universities ought to be used for education, not sports. Tie the salaries of academics to that of sports directors. That would be fun to watch.

Universities is what helps many young people get into a better life. Education makes a better country. More scholarships, more research, more medical schools, etc. They would all benefit the community at large. Football works only for those receiving the large salaries and the bookies.

Enjoyed the article, thank you for all your work.

Unknown said...

What is with the witch hunt recently with Auburn and Alabama? I mean, seriously, everything that has been mentioned in this report was actually investigated and they were either proven guilty or innocent.

Unknown said...

Debby Head, is your arse up and at 'em too?

There are no reports as good as Legal Schnauzer, and thus, the news is good to know.

Innocent? Guilty?

Please Debby get your head right.

The agenda is to make America as much of a sink hole as can be. What better way than to take the sports, or children, or how about simply most all of the people all the time and get them to be Debby Heads?

Clueless and proud to be an American Head of Debby goo.

Anonymous said...

ur mom cheated at Auburn

Robby Scott Hill said...

AWESOME! Now we know how UAB was able to defeat LSU on September 23rd 2000. Nick Saban was so busy with a scandal he didn't have time to coach.

Unknown said...

Court records show that grades were changed for football players while Nick Saban was head coach at LSU?

How is the deposition of a single individual considered "proof" that grades were changed? I can give a deposition that says a ghost visited me last night and told me I was the king of Ireland in a past life. People have given depositions about their experiences being kidnapped by aliens. Does that mean court records prove aliens abducted them? Your logic is a bit flawed as to what you consider proof.

legalschnauzer said...

I didn't say it was "proof." I said that's what court records show, and that is true, according to the report in USA Today. A deposition is a sworn document, given under penalty of perjury. Can a person lie in a deposition? Of course. Can a person go to prison for lying in a deposition? Yes. Most people consider lying under oath to be a very bad idea.

As for your examples of depositions given about being visited by ghosts or kidnapped by aliens, I'm not sure any of those actually have taken place. A deposition is an official proceeding, on issues that are material to a court action. It is part of the fact-finding process known as discovery in a legal case. Why anyone would be giving a deposition on the subjects you raise is beyond me. BTW, depositions also are expensive and involve intense questioning by an attorney. It's not something people do cavalierly, for fun. Perhaps you are mixing up a deposition with an affidavit. Of course, an affidavit also is a serious matter, given under penalty of perjury, but it is more of a one-sided document, and it's not so expensive to produce. However, turning in a false one to a court of law is dangerous. Turning in one on the subjects you raise, on matters that cannot be proven or disproven, is pointless. Plus, I'm not sure why there would be a court case on such matters.

Anonymous said...

If you live here in the state of Alabama, you already know the answer to that question.

Anonymous said...

OK. Here we go again..., and again..., and again..., ...

As long as Alabama is on top of the football world, these comments are gonna keep popping up. If there is any truth to them, then the punishment will be forthcoming. If they are just whiners whining, they will have to whine about something else.

I am an Alabama fan, but I feel the same way about the innuendo about that "other" team from 2010. I tire of all of these "new" accusations. they come from everywhere, and you would think that every other team in the country is squeaky clean. But no, they're just no successful. It's as if the only way to succeed is to cheat. Hard work, personal discipline, and other character traits don't even matter.

Anonymous said...

You do realize thay is the same logic that Gumps use against Auburn right? It took less than that for roberts' story to have merit with the Gumps, ESPN, BR,, etc.. At least we can agree the logic is flawed

Anonymous said...

Always good to be on top of the Football world! Roll Tide to everybody. No proof of ANYTHING untoward happening at Alabama, yet this "journalist" is trying to link the idea of supposed cheating at LSU to suggest Saban MUST somehow be cheating at Alabama. Do boosters pay football players? Hell yes! Happens everywhere, not just at Alabama or the Cow college. Bama has pushed in the proverbial shit of the rest of DIV 1A football for a couple of years now, someone is now trying to beat them OFF the field, because they know what happens when they play Alabama ON the field. Where there is smoke, there is usually some traitor/benedict arnold selling his soul for a couple more dollars. Get your heads out your ass's and research the committee of 300 or Bilderberg or the treasonous Federal Reserve Bank, the unconstitutional graduated income tax or the invasion of the middle east and the coming THIRD WORLD WAR, you know shit that actually affects you!

Fuck the Rothschilds and Roll Motherfucking Tide