AUBURN, Ala. (AP) — Auburn athletic director Jay Jacobs says the school is reviewing allegations of NCAA rules violations in the football program during its 2010 national championship season but doesn’t believe they’re credible.
Jacobs issued a statement Thursday in response to a report a day earlier by former New York Times and Sports Illustrated writer Selena Roberts that was posted on http://www.roopstigo.com. The story quoted former Auburn players Mike McNeil and Darvin Adams alleging they received or were offered money from coaches. McNeil said he had a grade changed to stay eligible.
McNeil is scheduled to go on trial Monday for armed robbery charges. He appeared in Lee County Circuit Court for a hearing Thursday, but declined to answer reporters’ questions about allegations made in the story.
He and three teammates from the 2010 team were dismissed from the squad following their arrests a couple of months after Auburn beat Oregon in the BCS championship, led by Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton.
“Anytime accusations are made against Auburn, we take them seriously,” Jacobs said. “We have no reason to believe these allegations are either accurate or credible. However, as a matter of procedure, we are reviewing them carefully.
“It is important to note that several of the sources in this story have since indicated they were either misquoted, quoted out of context or denied the allegations.”
Former Auburn coach Gene Chizik also denied the allegations in statement released through Birmingham sports attorney Russ Campbell.
Chizik, fired by Auburn after the Tigers went 3-9 last season, compared the report to media coverage during the 2010 season of an NCAA investigation into the recruitment of Newton. Auburn and Newton were ultimately cleared by the NCAA.
Chizik said the latest story was “long on accusation and inference, but short on facts and logic.”
“It is noteworthy that the story comes just days before a player mentioned most prominently in the article is set to go to trial for felony armed robbery,” Chizik said. “The statements are very generalized accusations devoid of substance. During my time as Auburn’s head coach, I never authorized, instructed or directed anyone to change any player’s grade or provide any type of illegal payment to any student-athlete. Likewise, I am not aware of any alleged grade change or illegal payment by any member of my coaching staff, support staff or anyone else.”
Adams was quoted in the story as saying Auburn coaches offered him money to stay for his senior season. He entered the draft as a junior but wasn’t selected.
McNeil said that he was paid $400 by then-assistant coach Will Muschamp, now Florida’s head coach. Muschamp denied the allegation through a spokesman at Florida.