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Despite accusations, investigation of Moffitt unlikely

Despite accusations by the wife of USF linebacker Ben Moffitt that she wrote numerous papers and completed more than one online course for her husband during his time at USF, the University has no intention of initiating an investigation unless a faculty member comes forward with suspicions of his or her own.

In stories published last week in both the St. Petersburg Times and the Tampa Tribune, Shauna Moffitt, 26, claimed that she had written several papers for Moffitt during his five years at USF in order to help maintain his football eligibility. According to the Tampa Tribune, Moffitt’s wife e-mailed the newspaper copies of several papers she claimed to have written for her husband and told the Tribune that “Ben Moffitt has never written a paper. Never. Ever.”

Despite the allegations, University spokesman Ken Gullette said that USF is considering the matter a “domestic issue that is being played out in the media” and will only get involved if one of Moffitt’s former professors comes forward with accusations as well.

“In any situation, if a professor feels like a grade was earned inappropriately, the professor would then institute a judicial process that would follow up on the suspicions,” Gullette said. “The only time an investigation would be launched is if there was suspicion of widespread abuse.”

An example of such widespread abuse that led to an investigation took place at Florida State University last year when it was discovered that dozens of athletes across several sports were accused of cheating in an online music course. As a result of the investigation, 36 Florida State football players were suspended from playing in the Gaylord Hotels Music City Bowl on Dec. 31.

Gullette was quick to point out the difference between the widespread abuse found at Florida State and the accusations being made about Moffitt.

“Everybody keeps bringing (the Florida State situation) up, but that was an instance of a widespread violation,” Gullette said. “At that point the institution would have to get involved.”

USF athletic director Doug Woolard and football coach Jim Leavitt could not be reached for comment and Gullette insisted that the situation is “an academic issue and not an athletic issue at this point.”

Gullette went on to say that unless someone came forward with accusations of a widespread violation, any investigation conducted by the school would remain confidential.

“If any student was ever the subject of such a thing, if a professor suspected any academic misconduct and initiated judicial action it would be confidential,” Gullette said. “I wouldn’t even hear about it because student information and records are confidential and any type of action would be as well.”

Erin Collins-Cullaro, Shauna Moffitt’s attorney, would not comment on the exact number of papers or courses Shauna is claiming to have completed for Moffitt and said that “the matter of paramount importance is the well-being of the children and that they – not Mr. Moffitt’s academic or athletic standing – are Shauna’s primary concern.”

According to her attorney, Shauna is claiming that Moffitt, who completed his final game of eligibility for the Bulls in the Brut Sun Bowl on Dec. 31, left her and their two children, ages 5 and 3, on Nov. 11. Moffitt has since filed for divorce, with Shauna receiving the dissolution papers Friday.

Moffitt, who is being projected as a mid-round pick in April’s NFL draft, finished his career at USF with 331 tackles, second only to current New York Giant’s linebacker Kawika Mitchell on USF’s career tackle list.