Report: Auburn athletic officals pushed to save popular athlete major

Thursday August 27th, 2015

An academic major at Auburn University that was set to be removed from the school's curriculum was saved when the athletic department expressed opposition to its cancelation, The Wall Street Journal reports

In 2013, Auburn's curriculum committee voted to eliminate the undergraduate major “public administration,” arguing that it did not add to the academic mission of the school, according to the report.

However, the decision was overruled when it led to complaints from Auburn's athletic officials, according to the WSJ. More than half of the 111 students enrolled in the public administration major in 2013 were reportedly student athletes, including some of Auburn's star football players. 

The following year, 26 football players majored in public administration, according to the report. 

The WSJ obtained an internal athletic department memo that stated, “If the public administration program is eliminated, the [graduation success rate] numbers for our student-athletes will likely decline.”

• Rutgers' Kyle Flood contacted part-time professor about grades

The Wall Street Journal also reports that athletic officials suggested using athletic department funds to help with the cost of keeping the major in the school's curriculum. Auburn senior associate athletic director Gary Waters wrote in a 2013 email obtained by The Wall Street Journal that the athletic department had made “similar investments in academic programs during the last few years.” 

Auburn academic officials told The Wall Street Journal that the athletic department does not influence academic decisions.

The Auburn football team had a graduation success rate of 68% in 2013-14. The Tigers finished 8-5 in 2014, and enter the 2015 season ranked No. 2 in Sports Illustrated's top 25. 

- Xandria James


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