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Student Cheating Scandals

Cheating may be tempting, but in the end, it never pays. Here's a look at some of the most infamous college cheating scandals that prove honesty is always the best policy.

In case you missed it, a cheating scandal rippled through the baseball world last month: New York Yankees pitcher Michael Pineda was ejected from the April 23 game against the Boston Red Sox after a streak of pine tar was discovered on his neck.

If you were wondering why that’s a big deal: baseball players use pine tar to aid their grip on the bat, but for pitchers it’s a no-no. According to Major League Baseball Rule 8:02, pitchers cannot “apply a foreign substance of any kind to the ball,” including pine tar.

The stain on Pineda’s neck was so obvious that Red Sox manager John Farrell felt the need to address the issue to home plate umpire Gerry Davis, who inspected Pineda and swiftly gave him the boot in the middle of the second inning. Pineda is now under a 10-game suspension and has been ridiculed by every major media outlet for his poor judgment and disrespect of the game.

But the thing is, pitchers tamper with the ball all the time: they scuff it up, spit on it, and even use a little bit of pine tar to help them grip the ball in cold weather.

It goes to show that from time to time, people choose the easy way out—including students. It may be tempting to peek at your neighbor’s test when you’re not quite sure of an answer, but guess what: it’s against the rules, and more than likely, you will get caught.

So, students, take heed: just because some people cheat doesn’t make it right, and it doesn’t mean they don’t get busted. Rules are rules, and if you break them, there are consequences. If you still aren’t convinced, here are 10 notable school, sports, and sex scandals that show no good can come from cheating.

$2,400 for a 2400

In 2011, students from Long Island got more than they bargained for when they were caught in a years-long cheating scandal in which they hired others to take their SATs. Those offering the service charged $500–$3,500 for high scores, some in the 2140–2220 range. The scheme was finally uncovered after faculty noticed students’ astronomical numbers didn’t correlate with their grade point averages. Most faced misdemeanor charges, while test-takers were charged with a scheme to defraud, criminal impersonation, and falsifying business records—not a good start to a college career.

That’ll teach you

In 2010, a business professor at the University of Central Florida had a lot of grading to do when he made a class of 600 students retake a test he suspected many had cheated on. The original scores were a lot higher than in years past, and for good reason: some students discovered the bank of premade questions and answers prior to the exam and used them to study. The teacher gave a long lecture on academic integrity, made the whole class take the test again, and gave the cheaters a choice: come forward or face expulsion. The 200 students who confessed then had to sit through a four-hour class on ethics; hopefully they learned their lesson!

Sex sells

In the early 2000s, some students at Diablo Valley College in California were so desperate for good grades that they offered money—and sexual favors—to student employees who worked in the records office. Some paid up to $600 to have their grades changed in the computer system, and it was later discovered that some even exchanged sex. Over 400 grades had been altered by the time the scam was unearthed in 2006. Dozens of students were accused, and many were arraigned on misdemeanor and felony charges.

A is for absences

Gym class was an easy A for some players on the University of Georgia Bulldogs basketball team. Assistant coach Jim Harrick, Jr. taught a class called Coaching Principles and Strategies in Basketball that many of his players signed up for . . . but hardly attended. Team members received credit for going to practice in lieu of the class, and Harrick gave everyone an A, even if they didn’t show up to take this extra tricky final exam (insert sarcasm here). The coach was charged with academic fraud and fired in 2003, and the team had to pull out of the postseason, dashing hopes of an NCAA tournament run.

Sailors hit rock bottom

Business was booming for slippery United States Naval Academy students in 1992 after they obtained an electrical engineering exam and sold copies to 134 students for $50 each. They weren’t caught until 1994, when the Navy investigated graduating seniors they believed had advanced knowledge of a test taken during their junior year. Twenty-four midshipmen were expelled and denied their degrees, while 62 others were punished otherwise for violating the honor code.

Prestigious plagiarism

One wouldn’t typically associate the word “cheating” with Harvard, but the Ivy League college was rocked by scandal involving a take-home test just a few years ago. In 2012, the assistant professor of an Introduction to Congress class noticed a lot of similarities among the final exams his students completed outside of class, including word-for-word sentences and recurring typos in free-write responses. About 125 students were accused of plagiarism, with 70 forced to withdraw from school for up to a year before they could apply for readmission. To save face in the future, Harvard now includes presentations on academic integrity during freshman orientation, and an honor code draft was written in February.

Caught red-handed

University of Maryland business school professors busted several cheaters in 2003 in an effort to crack down on students using cell phones during test time. Answer keys were often posted online at the start of exams, of which many students were aware. They texted their buddies outside of class to get the answers—but this time, they didn’t know this particular key was a fake. The teachers compared the students’ answers to those of the red herring to see who had cheated, and 12 students were accused. The six who confessed failed the class and had a mark placed on their transcripts, while the other six faced the student honor council for their punishments.

No takesies-backsies!

The University of Minnesota men’s basketball team had a great run under coach Clem Haskins in the ’90s, achieving many victories, awards, titles, and tournament appearances. But they lost it all after it was revealed that Haskins had paid the team’s academic counselor $3,000 to ensure his players had adequate grades to stay on the team. In 1998, Jan Gangelhoff told the St. Paul Pioneer Press she had written over 400 papers for 20 different players over the years. This led to two more tutors coming forward, claiming they had also done course work for team members. As a result several players were suspended, coaches and counselors were forced to resign, and the Gophers were stripped of all accolades earned from 1993–1999.

Doctor who?

It’s understandable that the average person doesn’t want to deal with a root canal, but a future dentist? In 2006, it was discovered that students at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey had been trading credits with each other for completed clinical procedures—including root canals, crowns, and fillings—required to graduate. As part of the program, after completing a dental procedure, faculty members are required to sign a record to be put into the system. But some students got signatures before filling in their own names, later writing in a friend who needed those credit hours instead. The scam was discovered right before graduation, and 20 seniors were denied their degrees and banned from commencement ceremonies.

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About Claire Carter

Claire Carter

Claire Carter is the Editor of CollegeXpress.com and a proud alumna of the University of Maine. Go Blue! 


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