April 3, 2014
West Haven, Conn. — A professor who specializes in early modern French history at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill and played a significant role in exposing the biggest academic/athletic scandals at an American university will be awarded the Drake Group’s highest honor on Thursday, April 24, at noon.
Jay Smith, who founded UNC’s Athletic Reform Group (ARG) to uncover the truth about allegations of academic fraud at UNC, will be presented with the Robert Maynard Hutchins award at the Downtown Columbia Marriott in Columbia, S.C., the site of the 2014 College Sport Research Institute Conference (CSRI).
The award is given annually by the Drake Group, based at the University of New Haven in West Haven, Conn., to faculty or staff members who defend academic integrity at their institutions.
Hutchins, the president of the University of Chicago from 1929 to 1951, opposed the rampant commercialization of college football, which he said undermined the core values of higher learning. He was a strong advocate of academic integrity. He died in 1977.
The Drake Group is recognizing Smith for refusing to look the other way when allegations arose that many UNC athletes had been permitted for nearly two decades to enroll in courses and earn grades without attending classes or doing any work, said Allen Sack, president of the Drake Group and professor of sports management at the University of New Haven.
“Jay Smith showed tremendous courage in refusing to accept the partial, imperfect and misleading answers provided by UNC through its reports on the scandal,” said Sack, noting that Smith was instrumental in pressuring UNC to begin work on fixing the problems.
“It is the mission of the Drake Group to defend people like Jay Smith who are merely doing what they are supposed to do—defending academic integrity in the nation’s universities,” said Ohio University Professor and Drake Group president-elect David Ridpath. In fact, said Ridpath, “it is very sad that an award is even needed for faculty who tell the truth and defend academic integrity. Truth telling is a university’s reason for existence.”
Smith formed the Athletic Reform Group in 2011 out of frustration with the university’s response to allegations made about cheating and athletics. Smith and his committee prepared a “statement of principles” that reaffirmed the values of transparency and integrity and was signed by more than 100 faculty members.
The Drake Group was founded in 1999 by Jon Ericson, a former professor and provost at Drake University, to defend academic integrity in higher education from the corrosive aspects of commercialized college sports.