University of Central Florida Cheating Scandal Prompts Professor to Issue Ultimatum

Professor felt "absolutely disgusted" after 200 students cheated on midterm.

ByABC News
September 27, 2010, 1:03 PM

Nov. 10, 2010— -- Hundreds of students caught in a cheating scandal at the University of Central Florida in Orlando have been given a choice: Come clean or face the consequences.

Regardless of their decision, all the students must retake their midterm exam this week.

Professor Richard Quinn addressed his students in a videotaped lecture, explaining that the test scores "were a grade and a half higher than [they had] ever had run before."

Those elevated test results sent up a "red flag," so Quinn ran more complicated statistics on the exam results. He said he then received confirmation of his suspicions when a student, "either through a guilty conscience or as a head's up," anonymously tipped him off.

Two hundred students, approximately one-third of the class of seniors, were believed to have received advanced copies of the exam. It was the largest cheating scandal in the university's history.

Quinn, who called the scandal "a knife to my heart, calculated exactly who'd cheated, and then gave the entire class a dressing down.

"To say I'm disappointed is beyond comprehension," he said. "Physically ill, absolutely disgusted, disillusioned, trying to figure out what the last 20 years were all about."

He offered the students an ultimatum: Come clean and take a four-hour ethics course, and your records would be wiped clean. If they chose not to come forward, they'd run a risk.

"If you want to take a high-risk gamble, take it. I challenge you to take it," he said. "Because we know who you are, we know where you are and when academic affairs is done, you'll know the outcome."

Aside from the ultimatum, Quinn is making all 600 students retake the exam, whether they cheated or not. He has given the cheating students until midnight Wednesday to come forward and take the ethics seminar to risk expulsion.

So far, he told ABC News, about half of the cheaters have confessed.