Greg Brittian’s career at USF may be over.
Brittian, a senior who transferred to USF from Central Florida Community College last year, was found in violation of an NCAA bylaw, according to USF associate director of athletics in charge of compliance, Steve Horton.
In a report that Horton sent to the NCAA Friday, an investigation revealed that Brittian turned in a research paper that he didn’t write for a class during the summer semester. According to Horton’s investigation, Brittian had little knowledge of the paper and a pair of athletic department developmental assistants contributed to the completion of the paper.
“For us, this is of a very serious nature, an area of unethical conduct,” USF Athletic Director Lee Roy Selmon said. “For us, that’s important – that our student-athletes abide by the rules and perform academically.”
As a violation of Bylaw 10.1 (b) Unethical Conduct/Academic Fraud, Brittian would be subject to a one-year suspension, ending the senior’s eligibility at USF. The rule had been a half-year suspension, but following similar incidents at Minnesota and Tennessee, where tutors authored papers for athletes, the NCAA imposed a harsher penalty, increasing the fine to a full year. Horton said that Brittian would be the first case since the rule was amended in December 2001.
The investigation started with a meeting between Brittian and his professor, where Brittian said his girlfriend wrote the paper for him and that Athletic Department Development Assistant Collin Sherwin, a former Oracle columnist, had reviewed the paper for him. The university elected to not follow up with further penalties against Brittian.
In a meeting with Corey Johnson, USF’s deputy director of athletics, and Horton, Sherwin stated that another developmental assistant, Lori Atwell, approached him about editing the paper for Brittian after she had earlier asked him to write a paper for Brittian, which he declined.
While Brittian may have to sit out for a year, Sherwin, who is also a student at the university, must serve six months of work probation, as well as receiving a letter of admonishment, and Atwell has resigned after working for three months with the department.
“The penalties are very steep, but I think they should be,” Sherwin said. “At a larger university, this might have been swept under the rug, but here, it’s in the light, and I have even more pride in my school because they do things the right way.”
Once Brittian’s penalty is handed down, USF will immediately appeal to the Committee on Student-Athlete Reinstatement to restore Brittian’s eligibility.
The Bulls are appealing for a half-year suspension (14 games) under the previous rule, provided Brittian meets five conditions set forth by USF: (1) He doesn’t miss a class for the remainder of the school year. (2) Brittian serves an additional six hours of study hall per week. (3) He meets daily with an academic advisor. (4)He finishes the fall semester with at least a 2.5 GPA and no grade lower than a C minus. (5) Brittian serves 20 hours of community service during the semester break.
“The bar is high, but not out of reach,” Horton said. “These are more important than practice and take precedent over competing. Greg’s not going to be able to say, ‘I have to go to practice or lift weights.'”
Should Brittian fail to meet any of the requirements, his ability to participate with the team will be revoked. Brittian will continue to practice with the team and remain on scholarship regardless of the NCAA’s ruling.
“We’re not in the business of discarding people,” USF basketball coach Seth Greenberg said. “We’ll let it play out, and as soon as the NCAA lets me know, we’ll make a decision.”
While USF termed the fraud an isolated incident, it’s up to the NCAA to rule whether the infraction is a primary or secondary violation. A secondary violation wouldn’t carry any further sanctions for the team or the university.
Brittian, a 6-foot-6 forward from Mount Dora, started 25 games for the Bulls last season and averaged 5.8 points and 2.6 rebounds a game. Brittian was unavailable for comment.
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