Several former Auburn players allege the university altered grades, offered cash for players to forgo the NFL draft and stay their senior seasons and knowingly violated recruiting rules, according to a story by former New York Times and Sports Illustrated columnist Selena Roberts on her website, Roopstigo.com
The story revolves around former defensive back Mike McNeil, who was one of four players arrested and charged with armed robbery in 2011. McNeil is scheduled for trial next week and could face up to 21 years in prison if convicted.
McNeil painted a picture of a lack of institutional control at Auburn under former coach Gene Chizik, who brought the school its first national championship since 1957.
• McNeil said he had a grade in a computer science class changed from a F to a C after speaking to a counselor. Former Auburn defensive tackle Mike Blanc concurred with the grade changing and said the school “found a way” to make nine players who were declared ineligible for the 2011 BCS National Championship game — including MVP Michael Dyer — eligible.
• McNeil said he received $400 from former Auburn defensive coordinator Will Muschamp, who is now the coach at Florida. Muschamp has since denied the allegation.
• McNeil said players were given more than the $50 allowed under NCAA rules to host recruits. He also said coaches gave him $500 to host former Alabama cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick.
• Wide receiver Darvin Adams said he was offered cash to return to the team for his senior season instead of jumping to the NFL draft.
Auburn’s athletic department declined to comment, but AL.com reached Blanc, who said he had no direct knowledge of any wrongdoing by Auburn.
"Yeah. Me, personally, I don't have any direct knowledge of it," Blanc said. "You just hear stuff. I'm pretty sure other guys on the team that know more, like guys that were closer to Darvin and these other players I know. Darvin would probably would have told those guys. I know Mike and Darvin were really cool. Maybe Darvin could have shared some information with Mike. But, me, personally, I don't know nothing factual that any guys got any money."
When asked about his comments regarding Auburn finding a way for players to become eligible, Blanc added:
"That's not me. I don't know where she's getting this stuff from," Blanc said. "That's definitely not me. Mike McNeil said a lot of things and when she asked me some things, I said, 'OK, I've heard that, but I don't know for sure.'"
Blanc also displayed his dismay with the story on Twitter:
"Man this article is outrageous and isn't true. The media will do anything for a juicy story smh #sad"
Roberts stands by her quotes and her story.
This isn’t the first time allegations have surfaced against Auburn for alleged improprieties under Chizik. The NCAA investigated the recruitment of former quarterback Cam Newton and found no major wrongdoing. But last November, Yahoo! Sports reported that the NCAA was looking into “potential improprieties involving Auburn recruits, players, coaches, representatives of the school's athletic interests and third parties.” The investigation centered around former assistant coaches Trooper Taylor and Curtis Luper.
It will probably take several weeks to sort this story out and Roberts report will be scrutinized as the quoted players possibly backtrack from their stories. Meanwhile, McNeil is just the second of the four players to go on trial for the armed robbery. Antonio Goodwin was sentenced to 15 years last April.
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