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Archive for Saturday, May 17, 2008

Teacher defends allegations; Arthur ‘frustrated’

May 17, 2008

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Arthur's high school eligibility questioned

Questions arise about KU basketball star Darrell Arthur's eligibility while in high school, but KU officials are confident the university did nothing wrong. 6Sports director Kevin Romary has more from the newsroom. Enlarge video

Arthur's high school grades disputed

According to a story aired by WFAA TV in Dallas last night, Darrell Arthur twice had math grades changed in high school. Enlarge video

Darrell Arthur is in Dallas right now, staying in shape and preparing for the NBA pre-draft camp in two weeks.

His inner circle, meanwhile, is trying to put out a lot of fires.

Both sides of the story were told ad nauseam Friday, after a report by Dallas television station WFAA on Thursday alleged that the Kansas University basketball forward was the beneficiary of improper grade-changing while in high school.

Arthur's coach at South Oak Cliff, James Mays, was one target of criticism by former math teacher Winford Ashmore in WFAA's report. Ashmore stood by his story in an interview with the Journal-World on Friday, calling the Arthur allegations "the tip of the iceberg" in a climate of corruption at South Oak Cliff.

"In this case, Darrell is not the villain. He's the victim, not the villain," Ashmore told the Journal-World. "A student is going to do just what the adults allow him to do."

Mays denied any wrongdoing, calling the allegations "ludicrous" and "inaccurate" and stating one grade was changed due to a teacher error. He said he spoke with Arthur on Friday.

"He's disappointed and frustrated, obviously," Mays said. "But he's a trooper - a stand-up guy."

Ashmore alleged that Arthur benefited from improper grade changing multiple times in math classes throughout high school. The changes, Ashmore claims, helped qualify Arthur for a scholarship at Kansas that he probably wouldn't have been eligible for otherwise.

There is a history of similar allegations at South Oak Cliff. The school's 2006 boys basketball team - led by Arthur, a senior - was forced to forfeit its state championship after the district determined one of Arthur's teammates had grades altered to make him eligible.

Ashmore said he told administration of his concerns with Arthur's math grades years ago, but that the higher-ups "brushed it aside."

"It's not about Darrell," Ashmore said. "It's about uncovering the whole system and what's going on."

KU associate athletic director Jim Marchiony said the department was interested in the ongoing investigation by the Dallas Independent School District into the matter, but was confident that Kansas would not be hurt if the reports are true.

"In our mind, we obviously had nothing to do with the situation," Marchiony said. "The high school sends the transcript to the NCAA. The NCAA decides whether the player is eligible. The NCAA declared Darrell Arthur eligible. I can't imagine a scenario where Kansas would be affected by this."

KU basketball coach Bill Self released a statement Friday afternoon stating: "We are aware of the allegations as described in the news story. I'm sure the high school and the school district will do a good job determining the facts. It would be premature and inappropriate for anyone to comment any further until the process in Dallas takes its course."

An e-mail to the NCAA inquiring about the situation was not returned Friday.

Arthur was still an undecided recruit when the alleged grade-changing took place. He signed with Kansas at the end of his senior year after helping South Oak Cliff to consecutive state titles.

A 6-foot-9 forward, Arthur has played two seasons at Kansas, helping the Jayhawks to a national championship last month. He since has declared for the NBA Draft but has not hired an agent, leaving open the possibility of returning to KU for his junior season.

Mays said the latest allegations wouldn't be a factor on Arthur's decision to go pro or stay at Kansas. As far as KU is concerned, Marchiony said the department would be a spectator as it unfolds.

"All we can do is wait," Marchiony said. "We're as interested as anyone to find out what the real situation is."

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