COLUMBIA, Mo. — Brigham Young University is reviewing correspondence courses taken by former Missouri basketball player Ricky Clemons, after allegations by the athlete’s former girlfriend that he received improper academic help, a spokeswoman for the Utah institution said Thursday.
Clemons accumulated nine credit hours by taking three correspondence courses from Brigham Young while he was enrolled during summer 2002 at Barton County Community College in Great Bend, Kan.
The Brigham Young credits were among 24 credit hours the athlete rolled up in less than two months, allowing him to obtain a two-year degree from Barton County and qualify to enroll at, and play basketball for, Missouri starting last fall.
Clemons played point guard for the Tigers last season, but was kicked off the team in July.
He was booted off the team after a judge said Clemons violated conditions to stay in a halfway house instead of jail while serving a 60-day sentence. Clemons, 23, had pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor charges arising from a January incident during which ex-girlfriend Jessica Bunge said he choked her in a headlock and refused to allow her to leave his Columbia apartment for more than an hour.
Bunge has since alleged she saw Clemons receiving answers to exams while visiting him at Barton County. She has also asserted in media interviews that Clemons received improper academic help while attending Missouri.
Because of the allegations, Elson Floyd, president of the University of Missouri system, ordered an investigation of the entire basketball program last month.
The Brigham Young review was prompted by news reports about the cheating allegations, said spokeswoman Carri Jenkins.
“There have been media reports out there and so the review, I would say, is in its beginning stages,” Jenkins said.
She had no timetable for the review.
“What they are looking at is to make sure our procedures were followed correctly,” Jenkins said. “If those procedures are followed correctly, there is little room for cheating.”
Those procedures for correspondence students include having an unrelated third party, called a proctor, oversee any tests.
Proctors at locations outside of the Provo, Utah, campus are reviewed before testing by Brigham Young’s Division of Continuing Education, which is handling the review of Clemons’ work.
“The proctors are actually screened, to make sure the proctor is involved in education and that there is no relationship to the student involved in the course. However, students can nominate a proctor, with the understanding that person is still screened by the university,” Jenkins said.
Jenkins said federal student privacy laws barred identification of the proctor or proctors who oversaw Clemons’ exams in his three Brigham Young correspondence courses.
While the Brigham Young courses were taken while Clemons was physically attending Barton County Community College, college spokesman Mike Dawes said he “cannot divulge” whether a Barton County faculty member or staffer served as Clemons’ proctor.
“That would be for Brigham Young to say, since it’s their test,” Dawes said.
Lane Odom, an assistant coach at Missouri, said in a sworn deposition for Clemons’ prosecution that Missouri worked with Ryan Wolf, then head coach at Barton County, to enroll Clemons at the junior college. Odom said last March those discussions included “what he would need to graduate.”
The summer academic program cobbled together for Clemons included five physical education classes at Barton County, plus the three correspondence courses from Brigham Young and one correspondence course from Adams State College in Colorado.
Clemons’ transcript from Barton County shows a widely varying academic performance: an A, two B’s, a C and a D in “Introduction to Exercise Science.”
At the same time, by correspondence with Brigham Young he made an A in “Family Interaction” and B’s in “Principles of Biology” and “Human Anatomy.” Clemons made a B in his single correspondence course with Adams State, in “Communication Arts.”
Clemons has re-enrolled as a general agriculture major at Missouri this fall, but he is not playing for the Tigers and no longer has an athletic scholarship.