Never again will Cadillac Williams’ sociology degree be under such intense scrutiny ;  Even before no. 10 Auburn hosts defending National Champs LSU tonight, the Tigers have a victory of sorts to celebrate, as the Press-Register’s Evan Woodberry reports.

The NCAA found no major rules violations or instances of academic fraud in its review of independent-study courses at Auburn University.

The two-year-old case officially ended earlier this month when the NCAA notified Auburn that the school would not face penalties in the case.

The NCAA said the school was guilty only of secondary infractions because it “permitted student-athletes to repeat courses without proper authorization or take courses for excessive credit in a manner inconsistent with institutional policy.”

The case started more than two years ago when a New York Times article alleged that students, including many athletes, were receiving academic credit in independent-study courses for little or no work. Auburn’s investigation ultimately blamed two professors who taught “too many students in too many course sections” and violated university rules by keeping sloppy records.

The university attempted to fire tenured criminal justice professor Thomas Petee (above) for his role in the scandal, but ultimately provided him with a consulting post at Auburn-Montgomery as part of a settlement.

Sociology professor James Gundlach, the whistle-blower whose allegations prompted the report, has retired. In April, Gundlach received the Drake Group’s 2008 Robert Maynard Hutchins Award, which honors an individual “who has shown courage in standing up for academic integrity in the face of commercialized college sports.”

The NCAA said Auburn committed secondary infractions in the 2005-2006 academic year, but there were “no issues related to eligibility for competition as all the student-athletes who repeated a course did so after exhausting eligibility.”