OSU academic whistleblower comes forward

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - The woman whose allegations of academic fraud among Ohio State football players helped lead to an academic investigation of the program said her goal was to encourage such a probe.
"I just knew there's something that's not quite right here, and I wanted it to be investigated," former Ohio State teaching assistant Norma C. McGill told The Columbus Dispatch in a story the newspaper published Sunday.
McGill, 43, confirmed to the newspaper that she was an unnamed source in the New York Times story last Sunday that reported that star running back Maurice Clarett received assistance from a professor who allowed him to take two oral exams to pass a class.
McGill said she approached the Times in April hoping the paper would investigate the alleged misconduct, which included tutors doing homework and papers for athletes.
McGill said she has no direct knowledge of any wrongdoing by Ohio State tutors, only what she heard from Clarett.
In a phone interview from her hometown of Lexington, Ky., she said she regrets that the media has scrutinized Clarett.
"It's not fair for Maurice to take the hit," she said. "I didn't want this to be about him."
The Times reported that Clarett, a freshman on Ohio State's national championship team last season, passed an African-American and African Studies 101 class by taking two oral examinations.
Paulette Pierce, an associate professor at the university, told the newspaper she administered the exams after Clarett walked out of a midterm exam in the fall quarter.
Pierce, who hasn't returned several calls requesting comment, also told the Times that several football players informed her that tutors occasionally wrote their papers, but she had no direct proof.
Ohio State has formed a panel to investigate allegations of academic misconduct among players and whether they have received preferential treatment in classes.
The committee consists of 10 Ohio State professors, department chairs and other educators at the university. Stanley Ikenberry, a former University of Illinois president, will be a consultant to the committee.
McGill, who called The Dispatch after being contacted at her OSU e-mail address, said she is ready to be identified. She said she has been staying in hotels in her hometown and other cities during the past seven weeks.
Franklin County Municipal Court records show that a warrant was issued for McGill on July 14 when she failed to show up for a hearing on a misdemeanor charge of defrauding a downtown hotel.

According to a police report, she failed to pay her hotel bill of $384 on July 6. McGill said she was unaware of the warrant and believed her bill was paid.

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)