The furor over Yahoo (YHOO) CEO Scott Thompson's erroneous academic credentials claimed its first casualty Tuesday.

Patti Hart, the Yahoo board member who headed the search committee that recommended Thompson, will not seek re-election, the company announced.

"We thank Patti for her years of service and wish her all the best," the board said in a statement.

Yahoo's board also said it has named a special committee to investigate allegations that Thompson didn't have the computer science degree claimed in two filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The committee will "conduct a thorough review" of Thompson's academic credentials, "as well as the facts and circumstances related to the review and disclosure of those credentials."

The board has struggled to deal with allegations about its chief executive's college degrees since Thursday, when hedge fund operator Dan Loeb of Third Point charged that Thompson does not have the computer science degree Yahoo claimed in federal filings.

Third Point is a major Yahoo shareholder and Loeb has been highly critical of the company's operation and strategy.

Yahoo has acknowledged Thompson didn't have that degree and blamed the inaccuracy on an unexplained "inadvertent error."

Thompson has one degree in accounting from Stonehill College near Boston, Yahoo confirmed. Loeb had said in a letter to the Sunnyvale company that Stonehill did not begin awarding computer science degrees until four years after Thompson graduated.

The casualty

Loeb also charged that director Hart had embellished her education, claiming degrees in marketing and economics when she had a business degree from Illinois State University. Yahoo confirmed her business degree with specialties in marketing and economics. Probably the bigger issue for Hart was how Thompson's fictitious computer science degree had slipped past her committee's vetting process.

Yahoo's announcement said the board of International Game Technology, where Hart is CEO, had requested she not seek re-election as a Yahoo director. Her term on the Yahoo board expires at the annual meeting, which has not been scheduled.

On Monday, Thompson apologized to employees for "how this issue has affected the company and all of you." But he did not admit padding his biography with a phony computer science degree, leaving it to the board to investigate.

"I will provide whatever they need from me," he said in his apology to employees.

The investigative committee will consist of three directors who were named to the Yahoo's board this year: Alfred Amoroso, John Hayes and Thomas McInerney. The committee hired Terry Bird, of a leading Los Angeles corporate litigation firm, as its lawyer.

"The special committee and the entire board appreciate the urgency of the situation and the special committee will therefore conduct the review in an independent, thorough and expeditious manner," the announcement said.

Amoroso is past president and CEO of Rovi, a digital entertainment technology company. Hayes is chief marketing officer of American Express. McInerney is past vice president and chief financial officer of IAC/InterActiveCorp.

"I think they're moving in the right direction," said Kirk Hanson, executive director of the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University. "One would hope that a week to 10 days is adequate to resolve this. Their task is to be deliberate but also to get Yahoo off the front pages."

Altered biographies

Hanson added, "This is a wake-up call for all of us to examine our own bios to make sure that the facts are correct and the claims are credible and defensible."

Reflecting the atmosphere of increased scrutiny, Yahoo on Tuesday filed with the SEC a minor change in the biography of director David Kenny, chairman and CEO of the Weather Channel. The biography was on a site called Yahoo Forward that was put together for the upcoming annual meeting and board election.

Kenny's biography was changed to say the Weather Channel has "one of the top mobile websites" and "one of the most used apps on smartphones," rather than "the No. 1 mobile content site" and "the second most used apps" on all smartphones.

At the upcoming annual meeting, Loeb is expected to put up his own slate of directors to replace several departing board members, including cofounder Jerry Yang and Chairman Roy Bostock. Hart's decision to step down at the annual meeting will leave one more spot for the parties to fight over.

Adding more suspense to the unfolding tale, Yahoo "strongly advised" shareholders to read its definitive proxy statement when it becomes available because "it will contain important information."

Contact Pete Carey at 408-920-5419