ETS Loses Cheating Arbitration

University Testing

The Educational Testing Service (ETS) has been rebuked by an independent arbitrator for invalidating a student s test score without substantial evidence. ETS had accused Ken Haslip, Jr., a University of Southern California football recruit, with cheating on the SAT after an anonymous informant claimed he had copied answers.


Unlike most test-takers, who agree to take a retest in the face of ETS s widely criticized, one-sided investigative procedures (see Examiner, Fall 1993), Haslip hired a lawyer, W. Anthony Willoughby, and pursued legal action. In the wake of his arbitration victory, Willoughby pledged to sue ETS for defamation and breach of contract and seek substantial monetary damages.


The test-maker s response is not yet known, but ETS recently lost an appeal in another long-standing cheating case in which several courts had ordered the release of Brian Dalton's SAT scores (see Examiner, Spring 1992, Summer 1992 and Summer 1994). Judges had concluded that ETS breached the implicit duty of good faith in failing to consider Dalton s evidence by steadfastly adhering to its refusal to release the test scores.


The Haslip case is one of several recent proceedings involving athletes attempting to reach the minimum test scores required under the Initial Eligibility Rules of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), Propositions 48 and 16 (see Examiner, Summer 1995). Apparently, some college sports recruiters who have become frustrated when a student does not select their institution have reported discrepancies to ETS. In other instances, a student s chosen school has initiated an investigation to make sure they will not be questioned after they have awarded a scholarship.


Since many prospective athletes have taken SAT preparation courses to increase their chances of meeting the NCAA requirement, large score increases are not unusual. Coupled with any suggestion of irregularity, this puts student athletes at particular risk for ETS's investigations. Very few students athletes or otherwise have the time, money or commitment to take ETS through arbitration or other legal processes to protect their rights.