02/02/2013 01:04 EST | Updated 04/04/2013 05:12 EDT

Dozens of Harvard students forced to leave over cheating

A cheating scandal has forced dozens of students to withdraw from Harvard University, according to the Harvard Crimson newspaper.

The daily cites an email sent by Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences Michael D. Smith to the Harvard community on Friday morning, which says about half of the 125 cases under investigation resulted in "required to withdraw verdicts."

The Harvard College Administrative Board set out to determine how many of the 279 students taking a course on government may have collaborated or copied answers.

Suspicions arose after a professor noticed similarities when looking over work on a take-home final examination distributed last May to students taking the Introduction to Congress class.

The class reportedly drew a large number of varsity athletes, some of them on the Ivy League school's basketball team.

The exam had a short-answer format.

Smith wrote that roughly half the students in the suspect group received disciplinary probation, while the balance ended in no disciplinary action.

The New York Times reports that forced withdrawals usually last two to four semesters, after which a student may return.

According to the Times, administrators said some answers on the exam in question were found to be identical, down to, in some cases, typographical errors.