Auburn denies claim academic staffer took exam for football player

Auburn is looking into allegations that an academic staff member took an exam for a football player. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Auburn is looking into allegations of academic improprieties among its student-athlete support services department.

The school confirmed to Outside the Lines Wednesday that it has hired a Birmingham-based law firm to investigate if a part-time academic employee took an exam for “at least one football player from the 2016 team.”

The school said the allegation is “simply not true” and told the player said to be involved in the investigation “is a former player who came back to school to complete his degree” and “was not a member of the team at the time of the allegation.”

Per Outside the Lines, the player “received a perfect grade on a final exam only a few weeks into the course.”

A source told Outside the Lines that a mentor in Auburn’s student-athlete support services department took an online final exam for at least one football player. The source said a tutor who worked with the mentor became aware of the alleged misconduct while reviewing a football player’s academic records in February, noticing that the player had received a perfect grade on a final exam only a few weeks into the course. The source said the player told the tutor he had not taken the exam.

After hearing that, the tutor alerted the mentor’s supervisor, the source said. In August, the tutor who had reported the allegations was told her job wouldn’t be renewed, according to the source; the tutor then reported the issue to Auburn’s compliance director and the athletics department’s human resources office.

In a statement, Auburn told Outside the Lines that the person who claims the “mentor” took the exam “is a part-time employee placed on administrative leave on Aug. 31 because of a dispute with a coworker.” Auburn also said the tutor signed 38 timesheets “stating that she has no knowledge or has not witnessed or assisted a student-athlete in participating in academic dishonesty” while the former football player allegedly involved “categorically denied any wrongdoing.”

“It’s simply not true,” the statement reads. “The person making the accusation is a part-time employee placed on administrative leave on Aug. 31 because of a dispute with a coworker. She is making claims not supported by facts, and based on what ESPN told us, she keeps changing her story. Neither she, her attorney nor our investigation have produced anything to support her claims.”

ESPN reporters have not disclosed the identity of any sources to Auburn officials. In seeking comment about the allegation, reporters shared additional information with Auburn as new and more-detailed information became available to them.

This allegation is one of a number of active investigations into Auburn athletics. A review of the softball program was conducted after allegations of abuse and sexual harassment by former assistant coach Corey Myers, the son of head coach Clint Myers. The elder Myers abruptly retired after the allegations surfaced. Additionally, the men’s basketball program is being investigated after assistant coach Chuck Person was arrested into the highly-publicized FBI investigation into college basketball.

The same law firm, Lightfoot, Franklin & White, is conducting reviews for Auburn in both the softball and basketball situations as well.

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Sam Cooper is a writer for the Yahoo Sports blogs. Have a tip? Email him or follow him on Twitter!