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Duquesne: No academic favors granted to former player

| Tuesday, April 9, 2013, 12:41 a.m.
Philip G. Pavely
Duquesne University's Sam Ashaolu looks at his degree during the commencement ceremony on Dec. 17, 2009, at the A.J. Palumbo Center. Ashaolu was a basketball recruit who never played a game for the Dukes after suffering life-threatening wounds during a campus shooting in 2006.

Duquesne University did not offer academic favors to a former basketball player at the school, its attorney said Monday.

Sam Ashaolu, who was the most seriously injured of five players in a 2006 on-campus shooting, contends in a video on his Website that he was given special treatment to help him graduate.

"The allegations as they relate to the suggestion that Duquesne has compromised its academic integrity are completely unfounded," said Steve Zoffer, counsel for the school. "We are a little surprised and not sure where this is coming from at this point in time.

"As far as his graduation and completing academic requirements, he had to complete them just like anybody else."

Ashaolu said in a video on his Website (samashaolu.com) that assignments and tests were done for him when he returned to school after his recovery.

"I was struggling in class," said Ashaolu, who said on his Website that he has bullet fragments in his head from the shooting. "I was getting by, but it was very hard for me."

He said he was told to come to the office of a school official he identified as "Dr. D" where his completed assignments needed only his signature.

"They had my homework or tests or anything I had to do, he would have it done," Ashaolu said. "They just told me to come to his (Dr. D's) office and they will have assignments done and they told me to put my name on it or copy down and hand it in to the teacher and that was it."

Ashaolu, who remained on scholarship at Duquesne after the shooting, graduated in 2009, but he said he had no reason to celebrate.

"I knew what the school was up to," he said. "I knew the whole situation. Graduation day wasn't a happy feeling for me.

"I knew the whole plan. I wasn't helping out the school. I wasn't playing for the school. They are like, 'We have to try to get him out of here as soon as possible.' "

Ron Everhart, who was the school's head coach at the time of the shootings, did not return a telephone call to the Tribune-Review.

Contacted Monday at his home in Toronto, Ashaolu was reluctant to discuss his remarks, but he said he stands behind them.

"Everything I put out there is authentic," Ashaolu said. "There are no lies or anything like that."

He declined comment on whether or not he has informed the NCAA of his charges. The NCAA did not immediately respond to questions from the Tribune-Review.

Ashaolu sued Duquesne University in 2010 in Allegheny County Common Pleas Court for failing to protect him.

Judge Ronald Folino dropped the university from the lawsuit, and the state Superior Court in 2012 upheld Folino's ruling by a 2-1 vote.

Ashaolu's attorney William Goodrich called the court rulings against his client "absurd." He added that Ashaolu has no further courses of action.

"But he has two bullets in his head, still," Goodrich said.

Lawsuits filed by former Duquesne players Stuard Baldonado, Shawn James and Kojoh Mensah, who also were injured in the shootings, were dismissed March 30 by U.S. District Judge David Cercone.

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