BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — Indiana University’s hiring of a decorated diving coach to help lead its renowned aquatics program is drawing fire from critics who say his bachelor’s degree is bogus and that his selection sends the wrong message to students.
Drew Johansen will start work at IU in July after racking up six ACC titles at Duke University and four Olympic medals as coach of the 2012 U.S. team in London.
IU officials say Johansen is a cutting-edge coach who’s a welcome addition to the storied program, which has the fifth-most swimming and diving championships in NCAA history and 24 Big Ten titles.
But others say he shouldn’t be eligible for the job because his bachelor’s degree in physical education was issued by Rochville University, a diploma mill that has come under fire in Texas and Oregon and in 2009 reportedly issued a master’s of business administration degree to a dog in Vermont.
The Indianapolis Star reported Thursday that Johansen’s Rochville degree is mentioned in Duke media guides and programs as far back as 2007. IU made no mention of it in his hiring announcement, saying instead that he attended Arizona State.
Athletic director Fred Glass said Johansen listed the Rochville degree on his resume.
“He represented that he had a degree from Rochville, which he does. There’s no misrepresentation there. It just turns out it’s not accredited, and we understood and dealt with it appropriately,” Glass said.
He said the university’s human resources department approved the hire and that Johansen’s coaching strengths were the primary consideration.
“We did this with our eyes wide open, with the full counsel of our internal human resources people,” Glass said.
Johansen did not return phone calls and emails seeking comment through officials at Duke and IU. Duke officials declined to comment, saying it was a personnel matter.
Concerns about Rochville are well-documented. Texas has made it a crime to use a Rochville degree to obtain employment. Last month, the Oregon Employment Relations Board upheld the firing of a state employee who had included a Rochville bachelor’s degree in his application years earlier.
Retired FBI agent Allen Evell, who lives in Hendersonville, N.C., said Rochville and an online high school were founded about a decade ago by Salam Kureshi in Pakistan. The operation is run from Humble, Texas, but the diplomas usually are postmarked from Dubai, United Arab Emirates, he said.
A federal judge in Michigan last year ordered Kureshi to pay more than $22 million in a class-action lawsuit against the high school for duping more than 30,000 people into purchasing bogus diplomas.