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SMU, DISD Respond to Frazier Accusations

Brett Shipp of WFAA in Dallas followed up his report on Southern Methodist men’s basketball student-athlete Keith Frazier with this response from the Dallas Independent School District:

A Dallas Independent School District spokesman said Monday that former Kimball High School basketball star Keith Frazier — now a student at SMU — rightfully earned his high school diploma, but added that the district is still reviewing how a Kimball coach was able to change one of the student’s grades against district rules.

Earning your high school diploma is part of being eligible, but not the only requirement. The NCAA gives more deference to high schools on graduation issues than core course requirements. The NCAA might still be interested in knowing more about the unauthorized grade change and if it impacted Frazier’s completion of the core course and GPA requirements.

SMU responded as well and specifically addressed the claim that assistant men’s basketball coach Ulric Maligi pressured staff at Frazier’s school to change his grades:

Assistant Coach Ulric Maligi asked for an update on the student’s grades, about whether the student needed to do extra credit assignments or take an extra course during the summer. He spoke with a higher education adviser who represented herself as the point of contact for the student’s academic performance. Previous grade reports indicated a passing grade in physics and other subjects. Subsequently, Coach Maligi conferred with the student’s high school counselor, a DISD employee, who instructed him to disregard the interim grade report he had just received. She indicated that DISD had experienced a problem regarding alleged grade changes at Kimball High School. This conversation led Coach Maligi to believe that DISD had addressed the issue and that forthcoming information on student grades would be accurate, as DISD has affirmed.

Maligi calling to ask how Frazier could graduate and get eligible was never a smoking gun. The next bullet from SMU’s release hurts its value as circumstantial evidence even more:

SMU received the final transcript on July 1, confirming the student’s graduation, with grades and credits indicating the student could qualify for SMU admission and NCAA eligibility. The alleged grade change on an earlier interim report was not reflected on the official transcript and thus did not have an impact on admission to SMU or NCAA eligibility.

Had this devolved into a he said, they said between Maligi and staff at the high school and the grade had been changed in SMU’s favor, the coach and SMU might have faced more scrutiny and possible penalties. But if the grade change did not appear on the final transcript, the idea that staff “knew what the coach was asking for” loses weight. Frazier would seem to be in the clear as well if any tampering with his transcript occurred without his knowledge and was ultimately corrected before the NCAA Eligibility Center certified his eligibility.

Based on the information so far, it seems highly unlikely that anything will come of this although it would not be surprising if the NCAA did its own investigation of the circumstances surrounding the alleged grade change.

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