AUSTIN, Texas — Gregory L. Fenves, president of The University of Texas at Austin, is commissioning a complete and independent review of the Texas Athletics Student Services division, which provides all student-athletes with academic guidance and resources.
Gene Marsh, a national expert on academic integrity, will conduct the review and report his findings and recommendations to Fenves, including in a final, public report.
“This top-to-bottom review will help me fully understand all aspects of the academic mission of our Athletics program,” said Fenves, who became the university’s president on June 3. “Texas has always been dedicated to winning with integrity and putting the education of our student-athletes first. By conducting this review, we will strengthen these core values of the university.”
Men’s and women’s athletics directors Steve Patterson and Chris Plonsky support the review of men’s and women’s student services operations. Employees in all areas of student services including compliance, sports medicine and sport performance will be available to Marsh for interviews, along with other university employees.
The review will include a thorough examination of all procedures and policies that impact the academic experience of student-athletes, from when they are recruited until after they have left the university. These include:
- academic advising and tutorial assistance,
- choices of majors and coursework,
- interactions among Athletics employees and university faculty members, officials in such areas as financial aid and the registrar’s office, and the deans of student affairs in individual colleges at UT Austin,
- the history of Athletics’ Student Services, which has been merged into one office during the past decade,
- any specific incidents of concern that arise, and
- consistency with national best practices and NCAA requirements.
“We believe in transparency and that this review is merited and timely. Athletics student services is built on integrity and overseen by staff who are dedicated to student success and leadership development,” said Plonsky. “We stand ready to facilitate the review and respond to any areas where we can improve.”
“We welcome this independent review by a reputable, independent third party,” said Patterson. “Texas Athletics, and especially its Student Services Department, has always been a leader in providing the best for our students while operating with integrity. While we have no information that indicates otherwise, if there are other best practices we can adopt, we will enthusiastically embrace those practices as we move forward.”
Marsh is already investigating allegations that three basketball players received improper help in their academic work and investigated two other allegations about students’ high school coursework raised by The Chronicle of Higher Education. The upcoming review will build on those inquiries.
Marsh is a member of the law firm Jackson Lewis PC in Birmingham, Alabama, and has worked on issues surrounding college athletics for 20 years. A professor emeritus at the University of Alabama’s School of Law, he served as the University of Alabama faculty athletics representative to the Southeastern Conference and the NCAA from 1996 through 2003.
He was also a member of the NCAA Division I Committee on Infractions from 1999 through 2008, including two years as chair. He has represented coaches and universities in various cases related to allegations of NCAA infractions.
The university is working to determine the anticipated costs and timeframe of the review.