Former Missouri tutor says she took 'entire courses' for student-athletes

Missouri plays its season finale against Arkansas on Friday. The Tigers are 3-8 on the season. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Missouri plays its season finale against Arkansas on Friday. The Tigers are 3-8 on the season. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

On Tuesday night, Missouri athletics released a statement saying it received “allegations of potential academic rules violations by a former tutor in the Athletics Academic Services area.”

A short time later, it was revealed that the former tutor, Yolanda Kumar, revealed in a Facebook post Tuesday afternoon she “participated in academic dishonesty,” including completing “entire courses” for student-athletes at the school. In an interview with the Kansas City Star, Kumar offered more details and why she decided to come out publicly.

Kumar told the Star she worked as a tutor for the school over the past six years and was “groomed” to help athletes, including football and men’s basketball players, stay eligible. She said she “completed classes, took tests and answered assessment questions.”

From the Star:

She said she participated in at least a dozen serious cases of academic fraud involving both men’s and women’s athletes during a 16-month period.

“I think about what I’ve done and I cry, not because I’m sad or I’m weak,” Kumar said, “but because I’m so angry that I didn’t use my voice to say no.”

Kumar reported the violations in a phone call to Mary Ann Austin, the school’s executive associate athletic director for compliance, on Nov. 2 and resigned a few days later. She revealed the situation in a private Facebook post Tuesday after learning the NCAA had contacted a lawyer she consulted.

From the Star:

“Academic dishonesty” is the term Kumar used Tuesday in a private Facebook post, which was obtained by The Star and other news outlets. She posted it early Tuesday afternoon after an attorney she’d consulted — but whose retainer she said she couldn’t afford — called to say he’d been contacted by the NCAA.

“I wanted to address my friends right away,” Kumar said, “because now the wolves are coming for me and I’m this fatty piece of meat and they’re like, ‘Let’s get her.’”

Kumar said she tutored hundreds of athletes, but pointed to 15 specific instances in which she says involved academic fraud.

“Either I completed (an online class), I took a placement test, I assisted with the placement test,” she said, “or I was present during your online assessment and you asked me questions while you were taking the online assessment.”

She said she was “groomed” and “felt harassed” to help athletes work their way through coursework and was in regular contact with MU’s basketball and football academic coordinators.

“I don’t know how it got so bad, but most of my students were coming from those two people in the revenue-generating sports,” she told the Star. “Then, there’s someone telling you, ‘He needs this class to pass. Do you understand? He has to have this class to pass, Yolanda.’”

Kumar said she can offer details about each of these cases. From the Star:

Kumar declined to name specific athletes or staff members because she expects to be asked to testify in the NCAA investigation. However, she said she can document each case of alleged academic fraud.

“At some point, I realized this might come back to bite me,” Kumar said. “There’s classes, semesters, students.”

In her interview with the Star, Kumar detailed specific situations, including the one last summer that led to her coming forward with the allegations.

In its statement released Tuesday night, Missouri said it was reviewing the allegations.

“Consistent with our commitment to rules compliance and to operating our athletics program with integrity, we are conducting a review of the allegations,” the statement said. “We also have informed the NCAA who is working with us on this matter. To protect the integrity of the review process, we will not comment further at this time.”

Added Missouri athletic director Jim Sterk: “While we recognize that there will be many questions regarding this situation, these investigations take time to ensure that we do it the right way. As always, our mission is to uphold the highest standard of academic performance and ensure the proper conduct with all of our programs.”

Tigers football coach Barry Odom told reporters Wednesday he was “confident” in the school’s compliance department.

“I’m excited about getting through this process. I look forward to working with all the parties involved to get all the information, all the background on everybody that’s involved in this and moving forward,” Odom said on the SEC coaches’ teleconference.

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Sam Cooper is a writer for the Yahoo Sports blogs. Have a tip? Email him or follow him on Twitter!