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The latest high-profile sports program under investigation for cheating scandal

New University of Texas President Greg Fenves has ordered a sweeping probe into allegations that University of Texas basketball players were given improper academic help to keep them on the team.

The inquiry follows a detailed June 10 report in the Chronicle of Higher Education that alleged systematic abuse. The CHE report led with the case of a freshman basketball star caught cheating on a math exam.

This was just "one of several new claims of academic misconduct involving Texas athletes," CHE reported, which together "illustrate how the university has appeared to let academically deficient players push the limits of its policy on academic integrity as it has sought to improve its teams' academic records."

"The basketball investigation and the broader review will be led by Gene Marsh, a former chairman of the NCAA infractions committee," ESPN reported. Fenves said the report would look at admissions, academic counseling and how courses are chosen for athletes, among other issues.

"I'm very proud of the academic success our students have had," Fenves told ESPN. "This is just a thorough review to make sure we are doing everything we can to support the academic integrity of the program."

If there is any fire behind this smoke, Texas may not be the only school that gets burned. As The Sporting News notes, much hinges on whether former Texas coach Rick Barnes knew of any actual abuses that occurred.

"If it were eventually determined that Barnes had any knowledge or involvement in any of the misconduct at Texas," TSN reports, "it would be particularly troubling for Tennessee, where he is currently employed. Barnes was hired as a replacement to Donnie Tyndall, who the school fired in mid-March after it was discovered he was likely responsible for NCAA violations that occurred during his time at Southern Miss."

Texas is just the latest high-profile sports school to face scrutiny. In April, the NCAA announced light sanctions against Oklahoma State after a 2013 series by Sports Illustrated alleged financial and academic misconduct and duplicitous treatment of players and former players.

As Sports Illustrated noted in April, the sanctions in this case were light partly because much of the offenses SI investigated fell outside the NCAA statute of limitations.

And a major scandal at the University of North Carolina resulted in NCAA sanctions earlier this month.

"The N.C.A.A. found that counselors had provided special arrangements by working with department faculty and staff members, sometimes requesting course offerings or obtaining assignments for athletes, over a roughly nine-year period starting in 2002," The New York Times reported.

Email: eschulzke@desnews.com