University of Colorado officials said Friday they have delayed a decision on whether to grant sabbatical leave to professor Ward Churchill pending the outcome of an investigation into allegations of research misconduct. Interim Provost Susan Avery said the first phase of the investigation into whether Churchill committed plagiarism and academic fraud, and falsely claimed American Indian ancestry was expected to be finished soon. "The decision to delay approval is based on the fact that research and scholarship are central to the purpose of sabbatical leaves," CU spokeswoman Pauline Hale said in a statement. A subcommittee of the university's Standing Committee on Research Misconduct has been looking into the allegations and is expected to report its findings soon to the full committee, which would decide whether to order a full investigation of Churchill. If it doesn't, his request for a sabbatical during the spring semester likely would be approved, Hale said. If a full investigation is begun, she said a final decision on Churchill's request would be delayed until the probe is complete. That could take up to five months, Hale said. Churchill has said he wanted to take a to finish a book about the Black Panther Party. He has said the sabbatical has nothing to do with the research inquiry. Churchill said the request was approved last fall before the uproar over an essay he wrote shortly after Sept. 11, 2001, comparing some of the World Trade Center victims with Adolf Eichmann, one of the Nazi architects of the Holocaust. An ethnic studies professor, Churchill was scheduled to return to the Boulder campus this fall to teach one class, "American Holocaust." Gov. Bill Owens and others have called for Churchill's removal as a tenured professor. CU officials have said Churchill could not be punished for his speech.