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SMU Basketball Freshman’s Grades in Question

On May 29, a week after the final days of class for seniors, [Keith] Frazier’s “failing” grade in physics was mysteriously changed to “passing,” the report states.

According to the report, Kimball soccer coach and teacher’s assistant Demarco King improperly pressured Frazier’s physics teacher to change Frazier’s grade. When the teacher refused, King admitted to investigators that he changed the grade himself.

Faced with an allegation like this, the NCAA has two separate but related questions to answer.

First, is Frazier eligible? That is, was the grade improperly changed and if so, is it the difference between him being a qualifier or not? Whether Fraizer knew about or participated in any efforts to get his grades changed would be relevant to a possible ethical conduct violation, since all student-athletes sign a statement that the academic credentials being sent to the NCAA Eligibility Center are, to the best of their knowledge, truthful and correct. Fraizer’s knowledge or involvement would also be relevant to the NCAA deciding what to do with him if he is no longer a qualifier (e.g., grant him a waiver, make him sit out the rest of this year, suspend him for next year, etc.).

The second question is what involvement Southern Methodist had in any improper grade change. The evidence presented by Shipp is not exactly a smoking gun:

Assistant SMU basketball coach Ulric Maligi called Kimball and made several inquiries about Frazier’s grades, including the day that Frazier’s grade was changed. Maligi allegedly asked Kimball’s college advisor how Frazier’s grade could be improved.

When investigators contacted SMU basketball officials they took two months to respond.

However it is more than enough to get the NCAA involved. And the NCAA has implicated coaches in NCAA violations based on the timing of phone calls rather than relying on the actual content.

To answer the inevitable “what about North Carolina” question in advance, the NCAA has always taken a more active and involved stance with high school academic records than college transcripts. Until the NCAA starts clearing every student-athlete every term and certifying college courses for eligibility purposes, the cases are not that comparable.

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