Auburn’s football team is rated #1 in the nation as it prepares for the national championship game Monday against the Oregon Ducks. Academically its team is rated #85 out of 120. It was rated #4 until a sociology professor spoke truth to power.
According to an article in today’s New York Times, one day in 2006 professor Jim Gundlach saw on TV that an academic player of the week was a sociology major. Gundlach had never had him in class, and two other sociology professors said they hadn’t either.
Gundlach smelled a rat in the football world, and dug around to expose widespread academic fraud in the Auburn football program. The Times broke the story back then, and Auburn, under pressure from the media and from the NCAA cleaned up its act—some—to publish honest academic ratings.
Gundlach didn’t get hero status at Auburn for correcting the football program: he was hounded out of the university by hate mail and calls assailing him for hurting the university. Gundlach doesn’t see it that way. The Times quotes him this way: “The things that I did in the process of going out was one of the best things I’ve ever done for Auburn,” he said. “In the long run, it will eventually do more.”
Gundlach’s decision to speak up against the almighty Tiger football program was highly ethical. While it hurt him professionally he’s glad he did it. He deserves the mythical Sam Goldwyn award for speaking truth to power.
*Sam Goldwyn, legendary Hollywood impresario, once said “I don’t want any yes-men around me. I want everybody to tell me the truth even if it costs them their job. “