Cadillac Williams’ Sociology Degree Questioned

Posted in College Spurts, Gridiron at 8:33 am by

The New York Times’ Pete Thamel has a peak behind the curtain of Auburn University sociology professor Thomas Petee. Knowledge Is Good!

The star running back Carnell (Cadillac) Williams, now playing in the National Football League, said the only two classes he took during the spring semester of his senior year were one-on-one courses with Professor Petee.

At one point, Professor Petee was carrying the workload of more than three and a half professors, an academic schedule that his colleagues said no one could legitimately handle.

The Auburn football team™s performance in the N.C.A.A.™s new rankings of student athletes™ academic progress surprised many educators on and off campus. The team had the highest ranking of any Division I-A public university among college football™s six major conferences. Over all among Division I-A football programs, Auburn trailed only Stanford, Navy and Boston College, and finished just ahead of Duke.

Among those caught off guard by Auburn™s performance was Gordon Gee, the chancellor of Vanderbilt, a fellow university in the Southeastern Conference and its only private institution. Vanderbilt had an 88 percent graduation rate in 2004, compared with Auburn™s 48 percent, yet finished well behind Auburn in the new N.C.A.A. rankings.

œIt was a little surprising because our graduation rates are so much higher, Mr. Gee said. œI™m not quite certain I understood that.”

The sociology department became œa dumping ground for athletes, according to one sociology professor, Paul Starr.

Professor Petee denied that he favored athletes, saying there were only œa handful of them in his directed readings. He said nothing was unethical about the number of courses he taught, though other professors viewed his workload as unprecedented and unmanageable.

Mr. Williams (above) said Professor Petee asked him to autograph a football once when they met in his office. œTo be honest with you, if they think that™s a problem, they need to investigate all the teachers at Auburn, Mr. Williams said.

6 responses to “Cadillac Williams’ Sociology Degree Questioned”

  1. WisdomWeasel says:

    This sounds like a case for stage hypnotist Paul McKenna, PhD.

  2. Ben says:

    This story is crap.

    If you actually read Thamel’s article, there’s just no there there. So Dr. Petee was too accomodating to any student who knocked on his door — it’s embarrassing for Auburn academically, but only 25% of the students in these classes were athletes, so where’s the violation?

    So Carnell Williams took two easy classes from Petee — he had already used up his football eligibility, so what was the motive to cheat?

    In short, this is an instance of a sports reporter arrogantly attempting to shoehorn an academic story into his preconceived “athletics scandal” narrative. Yet another blow to the NYT’s credibility (is it in negative territory yet?).

    And the blowback has already started…



  3. GC says:

    so let me get this straight…Peete might be guilty of a course- load over and above what any human could handle…he might be guilty of tossing it in underhand to star athelets…but it’s a non-story because a relatively small number of jocks took advantage? Or because most of Division 1 is no better?

    Is it a non-story, or just not big enough of a story to feature in the New York Times?

    Thanks, however, for providing a link to the Pickens County Herald piece by Kevin Strickland, which implies there’s some kind of sinister conspiracy based on a) the Tuscaloosa Times being NYTs’ owned, and b) Rammer Jammer Fuck MC Hammer tool Warren St. John being both a Times writer and a ‘Bama fan. While I’m no fan of WSJ, I think it is the stretch of the century to suggest he’s able to impact the editorial direction of the paper.

  4. Ben says:

    I never said I agreed with everything Strickland said, so get your panties out of a twist. There may not be a conspiracy exactly, but it is strange that the Times did another smear job on Auburn just last year, claiming that the existence of the team chaplain was somehow illegal. So forgive Strickland if he sees a pattern.

    If you actually knew what you were talking about, you would know better than to spout some of this crap. For instance, the professor who went public with this stuff, a Dr. Gundlach, did a study of the grades Petee gave and to whom. Even Gundlach admitted that there was no disparity between the grades awarded to athletes and to non-athletes. So there goes your “throwing underhanded” argument.

    Whatever Petee is guilty of, nothing that has been reported so far shows that athletes were favored or got special treatment. It’s an internal academic matter morphed into a sports scandal, tabloid style.

  5. Ben says:

    Another couple of things:

    Even the title of this post is ignorant — Carnell Williams has not graduated, so how could his “degree” be in question?

    Secondly, I assume you meant to write “NYT” instead of “WSJ”, but what has the paper’s “editorial direction” got to do with anything? We’re talking about Pete Thamel, not Maureen Dowd.

  6. GC says:


    my panties are most assuredly not in a twist. Your mom’s however, are really out of fashion and are rather unbecoming.

    So Petee’s equally soft on jocks and non-jocks? Good to know. If there are any slow witted teens still reading this, you might want to consider applying to Auburn.

    Still, good to know that you only consider it to be an internal academic matter. As though the faculty and students at Auburn are just scandal-mongers if they think any standards oughta be upheld.

    Thank you, Carnell Williams has not graduated. Perhaps Professor Petee should’ve tried harder.

    And no, I didn’t mean to write NYT instead WSJ. WSJ = “Warren St. James.” And the paper’s editorial direction has everything to do with this if Strickland believes someone with as little juice as James has any influence whatsoever over what kind of stories are assigned and run. The editorial direction of the paper isn’t merely the provence of the editorial page — surely a point you shouldn’t have nearly so much difficult absorbing considering you think there’s any credibility to the claim the Times has it in for Auburn.

    If you require further reading comprehension tutoring, by all means, take it up with someone else.