Saturday, December 24, 2005

South Florida Shut Down

There is now one less fly-by-night high school diploma mill selling fake diplomas to academically less-than-gifted athletes in South Florida:
University High School, a correspondence school in Miami being investigated for giving fast, high grades to qualify high school athletes for college scholarships, is going out of business Dec. 31, its founder, Stanley J. Simmons, said yesterday.

"It's a disaster," Simmons, 75, said in a telephone interview from his Miami home. "I'm finishing up everything, and I'm going back into retirement."

The National Collegiate Athletic Association yesterday named 17 people to a panel to study correspondence high schools and other nontraditional routes to college athletic eligibility and scholarships. The move is a response to questions about the legitimacy of the academic credentials of some high school athletes.

University High School offered degrees for $399 to high school athletes having grade problems, as well as to the older dropouts and the immigrants who were its main clients.

The school had no classes or instructors and operated virtually without supervision. Florida state law prohibits oversight of private schools.

The Miami-Dade state attorney's office was awaiting returns from subpoenas in its investigation of the school over possible fraud, the spokesman Ed Griffith said. It would not know if a crime was committed until it gathered more information, he added.

Elite athletes in Dade County said they received study guides with open-book tests and got quick A's and B's. The N.C.A.A. and college admissions offices accepted those grades.

Twenty-eight high school athletes sent University High School transcripts to the N.C.A.A. eligibility clearinghouse in the past few years, according to a University of Tennessee report. The New York Times identified 14 who had signed with 11 Division I football programs: Auburn, Central Florida, Colorado State, Florida, Florida State, Florida International, Rutgers, South Carolina State, South Florida, Tennessee and Temple.
We had covered a similar story about a similar South Florida "school" called American Academy earlier this month, but this is the first instance that I've heard of one of these diploma mills actually slithering out of town closing shop.

About time.
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