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Denials flowing from ‘pathetic… pure garbage’ HBO report

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As expected, the fallout from Wednesday night’s HBO special on big-time college athletics — football in particular — has commenced in earnest, with very swift and extremely vehement denials coming from the “stars” of the Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel program.

In particular, current Auburn head coach Gene Chizik took aim at the cable network for airing one side of a story in which four Auburn players — Stanley McCloverTroy ReddickChaz Ramsey and Raven Gray — levied accusations that they were paid cash by alumni/boosters in exchange for their signatures on a Letter of Intent to attend Auburn or for their on-field performances.  Or both.  Chizik, who said he was never contacted by HBO for their story, was Auburn’s defensive coordinator from 2002-2004, the same time frame as two of the players featured in the piece.

Saying “I don’t have my head in the sand”, Chizik blasted HBO for their one-sided approach to the issues raised in the expose’.

“It’s sad to me, it’s very sad to me, that HBO is going to go ahead and air something that, really admittedly, they’ve got no proof on anything,” Chizik said.

“What’s disturbing to me is that they interviewed other former Auburn football players who had exactly the opposite to say but somehow or another that failed to make the air, unless I missed that section. So I’ve got other former players that are calling me who are still playing and who are great players who had absolutely no knowledge of any of that stuff. So it saddens me that somebody is going to air a show with basically one side being known.

I think that’s pathetic. And I think it’s pure garbage.

Lee Ziemba, who started more than 50 games with the Tigers from 2007-2010, blasted the “bum” players via Twitter Tuesday as well.  While his message was somewhat softened yesterday, he still questioned both the accusers and their accusations.

“These guys obviously have some kind of beef with Auburn,” Ziemba told the Opelika-Auburn News on Wednesday. “I played here four years, was recruited by the same folks they were and never saw a dime out of any of it.

“I played in the same games, walked out of the same locker room and never got one of those ‘money handshakes.’ If any of that had been going on, I would have known about it.”

While the denials from Auburn are to be expected, it remains to be seen what type of NCAA fallout these allegations may trigger.  Ahead of the show yesterday evening, the SEC released a statement saying they are “aware of some of the information to be aired” and that their “staff will pursue the allegations in a timely manner.”  In their own statement, Auburn acknowledged that they have “contacted both the NCAA and Southeastern Conference as soon as these allegations surfaced”, as well as “engaging outside counsel to investigate this matter and will spare no resources to find the truth.”

The NCAA’s statute of limitations is four years — not five as we’d previously written — and two of the ex-Auburn players fall outside of that window.  However, the other two are within that time frame, which would allow the NCAA to commence digging.  There are, though, exceptions to that four-year time frame that could allow the NCAA to go as far back as they want or need to.

NCAA Bylaw 32.6.3 outlines a four-year statute of limitations on violations, but there are exceptions. Two could apply in this case. They involve: “Allegations … to indicate a pattern of willful violations on the part of the institution or individual involved, which began before but continued into the four-year period. Allegations that indicate a blatant disregard for the NCAA’s fundamental recruiting, extra-benefit, academic or ethical-conduct regulations.”

A Florida attorney who specializes in NCAA enforcement cases told that he would be surprised if, based on the allegations, the NCAA didn’t go back further than the normal four-year statute of limitations would dictate.

“If the enforcement staff can determine there’s a pattern of willful intent to violate the rules, they then go beyond that statute of limitations,” said Michael Buckner, an attorney from Pompano Beach, Fla., that specializes in NCAA enforcement cases. “It doesn’t happen often. But I would be surprised if the enforcement staff did not at least look into those allegations, even if they did occur beyond the four-year statute of limitations.”

Given the whole Cam Newton imbroglio, which begat a deeper NCAA look into Auburn’s recruiting practices, there’s little doubt that the NCAA will dig into these latest allegations and turn over any rock related to the Auburn football program.  The thing is, how much credence should be given to this quartet of players, one of whom had filed a lawsuit against his former school?

We’re far from qualified to give an answer to that question; we’ll let those on the enforcement staff more versed in these matters to decide the veracity of the claims.  However, one former Auburn player very concisely summed up where our feelings on this entire mess may be headed.

“There’s just a lot of guys that have dealt with things as far as how their career went, and a lot of that is reflected in how they felt they got treated by Auburn,” T.J. Jackson, a former teammate of McClover and Reddick, told the Opelika-Auburn News on Tuesday night. “Not being ugly to those guys, but if you were going to pay some people, there were probably a lot of people (on those teams) that should have been paid before those guys.”

Regardless of where the truth actually lies, there’s no doubt that we have yet to hear the last of this situation.  The question then becomes: will the current Auburn Four be the lone wolves crying financial foul play, or will “people that should have been paid before those guys” surface as well?

Stay tuned and strap in, I guess, as this off-field game is, unfortunately, far from over.

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34 Responses to “Denials flowing from ‘pathetic… pure garbage’ HBO report”
  1. katanaguy says: Mar 31, 2011 9:06 AM

    Where there is smoke…..there is fire. Woe to Auburn. All they need to do is follow the money trail to reveal the truth here.
    College football is my 2nd favorite sport & I just hate to see this kind of stuff. These “cash coaches”, wealthy alums & other enticement giving people just have to know that sooner or later if you throw enough $$$ at college recruits that someone is going to spill the beans.
    Some folks feel the college players should actually be paid a nominal amount of money by universities since they do generate revenue for the athletic programs , but this could be a Pandora’s Box & I find myself swaying back & forth on this issue.
    I was once a college athlete and I certainly could have used some extra help financially myself then too. If I remember, I received approx $15 a month for laundry money which was allowed by the NCAA…… $15 a month? Geez.

  2. florida727 says: Mar 31, 2011 9:56 AM

    I’ll be surprised if this develops into anything provable… emphasis on PROVE. He-said, she-said. That’s all this will likely ever amount to. IF the players were paid, it would have been in cash. Good luck tracing it. And oh by the way, it’s not like they ran to the bank and opened a new CD or 401K. They spent it (IF they got it) on pizza, beer and their girlfriends, just like every other college male. This’ll go nowhere.

  3. savocabol1 says: Mar 31, 2011 10:42 AM

    SEC has been getting away with paying their players for years and the conference turns a blind eye. And people wonder why they have some of the best recruiting classes each year……..

  4. roddy84 says: Mar 31, 2011 10:50 AM

    What is pathetic and pure garbage is the entire Fraudburn football program….please stop with the holier than thou denials….makes you guys look more pathetic than we already know you are…

  5. larrylig says: Mar 31, 2011 10:51 AM

    Chizik is a man not to be trusted. He has been self promoting himself any way he can for his whole career. He flat out lied to Iowa State before he bolted to Auburn for the better deal. Auburn has had too many things going on not to have one to two be legit and real. Look at Tressel. Another lying, out for himself, coach.

  6. lakesidegator says: Mar 31, 2011 11:21 AM

    “Old Nick” = Nick
    “Satan” = Saban

    What were his parents thinking?

  7. buckeyeboy says: Mar 31, 2011 12:07 PM

    idk man, I mean I hate the SEC as much as the next guy, but this is a he-said, she-said kind of deal like a poster said above. What proof was presented? Is there a paper trail or is it just 4 kids who didn’t get enough playing time and they were mad at their previous institution?

    if it’s proven then yes, very very illegal, but it’s not proven yet, so I don’t know if it’s ok to find them guilty already

  8. Deb says: Mar 31, 2011 12:40 PM

    @lakesidegator …

    Nick Saban doesn’t coach for Auburn and wasn’t implicated in any allegations in the HBO story. Does it hurt when you pull your head out of your butt? Or have you ever tried?

  9. Deb says: Mar 31, 2011 12:42 PM

    @savocabol1 …

    When did Michigan State join the SEC? Or did you miss the allegations against Michigan State in the HBO report? When did USC join the SEC? Or did you miss the entire Pete Carroll, Reggie Bush scandal? Heard of Jim Tressel?

    I’m sure it would be nice to blame your conference losses on SEC wrongdoing, but you’ll just have to keep blaming them on ineptitude.

  10. Deb says: Mar 31, 2011 12:47 PM

    I’m sure the NCAA will take these allegations as seriously as they took the admitted attempt by Cecil Newton to pimp his son to Mississippi State for six figures. Bylaws state that when a representative of a student solicits money from an institution, that student will be considered ineligible. No mention is made of whether the student knows about the solicitation. Yet the rule wasn’t applied to Newton.

    If the NCAA didn’t care about verifiable allegations, why would they suddenly care about unsubstantiated allegations?

  11. noaxetogrind says: Mar 31, 2011 1:31 PM

    Deb, while I agree with the substance of your assertion, I disagree with the inference. I think the NCAA found itself, after legal advice, in a somewhat precarious position in the Cam Newton case. The bylaw that you refer to is not written in language as simple as you portrayed it. There was some ambiguity as to the enforcement aspect if it couldn’t be proven that the student athlete had knowledge. Basically you would be trying to prove a conspiracy case and ask any prosecutor about the joys of that. I am not inferrnig that I think Cam did or didn’t know about it. I am simply saying that because of the way the bylaw was (is) written there was some debate as to enforceability. That is why every NCAA administrator who has a soap box has screamed that the language and “loopholes” need to be tightened. As for this current situation, HBO should be ashamed of this lack of journalistic due diligence. I am no defender of Auburn, or more appropriately said, some of their renegade boosters. However this is such a non story. Not even a shred of circumstantial evidence. I am little surprised that an Emmy award winning journalist like Gumbel would have lent his name to such shoddy work.

  12. edgy says: Mar 31, 2011 2:46 PM

    buckeyeboy says:


    The guys that took down SMU weren’t Dickerson or James, it was the ones that didn’t get playing time or for what ever reason, were dissatisfied with what happened to them at SMU. Most of these schools aren’t being taken down by guys that are satisfied with what they got like Bush but guys that felt that they were screwed, like the guy who was hoping to be Reggie’s agent.

  13. stairwayto7 says: Mar 31, 2011 2:59 PM

    The NCAA needs to make a stand. If players take money from boosters, the play losses scholarship and kicked off team, booster banned from games and player contact and if coaches know, they are fired, can’t be in any coaching ranks in NCAA for at least 5 years and the team losses all scholarships for 2 years, no TV and nobowls for 2 years. Do it a 2nd time, death penalty!

  14. auburnalfred says: Mar 31, 2011 3:06 PM

    what will be the next scandal coming out of auburn? Terrorism?

  15. auburnalfred says: Mar 31, 2011 3:07 PM

    AU thoroughly deserves the death penalty. I am a diehard AU fan but it is the only thing that will get through to cheating Gene Chizik and Bobby Lowder.

  16. edgy says: Mar 31, 2011 3:14 PM

    auburnalfred says:


    Be careful, buckeyeboy will label you as less than truthful about being a fan because you’re honest about how you feel that the school should be penalized. :)

  17. auburnalfred says: Mar 31, 2011 3:18 PM

    Of course some of the AU players will deny getting the money. If they had character enough to tell the truth they wouldn’t have taken it in the first place.

  18. auburntigergrad says: Mar 31, 2011 3:41 PM

    I agree with aubunralfred, only an uninformed person wouldn’t see that Auburn needs the death penalty.

    If this is proven to be true, this would be an immense disgrace to the school I love. I feel that all games from the past years that these players were a part of need to be vacated. All records and trophies (including the NCAA championship and last seasons title) need to be vacated.

    If these allegations are true, oregon was the #1 team last year because Auburn’s season should not have even occurred.

  19. Deb says: Mar 31, 2011 4:11 PM

    @noaxetogrind …

    I don’t agree that the language is ambiguous, but do agree that debate over apparent ambiguity was the issue. Haven’t heard yet that they’ve made any language adjustments though :)

    Agree with your comments on the special. I don’t like what I’m hearing about the how the reporting was choreographed on the Auburn segment. I get the impression HBO wanted to uncover something new on the Newton story and these former players are the best they came up with. I don’t necessarily doubt the players stories, but it was wrong not to interview Chizik or Tuberville–and it’s ridiculous that they wouldn’t air the Auburn players who said they were never paid.

    Besides, the whole Auburn segment didn’t fit the theme of the program. You could combine under-the-table pay-for-play schemes orchestrated by schools with recruiting enticements orchestrated by schools. But I don’t see how you could hold a school responsible for boosters surreptitiously passing cash to players after a game. And none of that has anything to do with the main theme of colleges profiting by exploiting young athletes then tossing them aside. That part of the special was handled well, but they should have stuck to that for the whole hour.

  20. gdpont says: Mar 31, 2011 4:56 PM

    After reading Coach Chizik’s comments, it struck me that he did not actually deny the facts. He attacked HBO’s reporting and harshly criticized the broadcast, but he never comes out and denies the player’s statements are true. Just the loud and inflammatory non-denial denial.

  21. auburnalfred says: Mar 31, 2011 6:08 PM

    Chizik made a fool of himself today. He should have made a No-Comment until the investigation. Makes it sound like AU already has a closed mind about the results of their own investigation.

  22. buckeyefan1026 says: Mar 31, 2011 7:13 PM

    lol why does it sound like auburnalfred and auburntigergrad are made up names that used auburn in their names to gain credibility for their stance against auburn?

  23. buckeyefan1026 says: Mar 31, 2011 7:23 PM

    This stuff goes on at every college, and alumni aren’t going to always follow regulations… to which many schools have to turn a blind eye. Given there is no proof, it is clear that this stuff goes on.

    The best way to stop this is to start holding players accountable for their actions. Lets say players that took bribes or had major violations in NCAA, weren’t allowed to play in the NFL or had a capped salary of the league minimum for their first 3 year contract. Do you think players would be risking millions of dollars longterm to make 10k in the shortterm?

    This would require compliance from the NFL which initially doesn’t make sense, because the players talent is their only concern, not what they did in college. However, the NFL doesn’t want a bad image and bad press, which comes from guys who have poor character. I think some sort of correspondance between NCAA and NFL is key to cleaning up both leagues.

  24. edgy says: Mar 31, 2011 9:03 PM

    buckeyefan1026 says:


    Seriously, someone can actually talk honestly about their school and you want to call them liars. I guess you know that YOU can’t be honest and think others are the same way.

  25. buckeyefan1026 says: Apr 1, 2011 3:01 AM

    haha please don’t stereotype edgy… you can go back through the comments of anything relating to the situation at Ohio State, and you will clearly see my unbiased perspective.

    Now as for my previous comment (not that its a big deal in the first place), the reason I say that is because of their excessive reactions. There is no concrete proof or evidence thus far against Auburn, so why would you instantly turn against your school before the facts are uncovered? Especially with references to the death penalty and terrorism.

    I would consider myself one of the more unbiased posters on PFT/CFT… but you go ahead and stick to your stereotypes and hissy fits between you and buckeyeboy. You two are fantastic debaters.

  26. edgy says: Apr 1, 2011 8:46 AM

    Really, I stereotyped you. Hmm, I guess I will when I say this: isn’t it funny how some of you Buckeye fans can’t live with the fact that others don’t blindly follow their school or their coach off the cliff.

    There were no concrete evidence for a long time against USC and Bush and yet, a lot of us knew and we kept telling people that when it all started coming out that the school was going to get hit hard. After it all came out, I said that USC needed to get the Death Penalty to scare them AND the other big programs straight.

    BTW, there was no concrete proof, at first, against Rose and yet, there were several of us that knew that he was guilty and here’s the kicker: when proof started coming out, his supporters went into deep denial and attacked the proof. One, a renowned author, Bill James, put his reputation on the line with chapter upon chapter devoted to defending Rose and poo pooing the evidence against Rose. Guess who looked like a grade A fool when Rose finally came clean and confessed to all but one of the sins (and I think that he’ll take that one to his grave but in my opinion, he did bet against the Reds).

    I believe that there is something to this and the allegations against Peterson and against others. You can attack the messengers as being disgruntled but name a situation when a “gruntled” player turned on his school. The danger of screwing around is that if you don’t treat everyone that has knowledge of the situation right, one of them is going to turn on you and it appears that there are AT LEAST 4 that Auburn has pissed off. Right or wrong, if your school lets the boosters mingle easily among the players, there ARE going to be $100 handshakes, even among the best schools (People like to hold the Ivy League schools up as a prime example of doing it right but they stopped emphasizing sports like they used to NOT because they thought that education came first but because they were THE major offender when it came to breaking all the rules. The things that they did made what the SWC and SEC have done seem tame and they finally woke up and put their foot down). You can say that they turned easily but it’s not like this is the first incident that Auburn has dealt with recently and they may have gotten fed up Hell, they could be Bama fans trying to get a little revenge or they could be a few Buckeye fans trying to take slaps at the school without appearing to be Buckeye fans but I’m willing to give them the benefit of the doubt because I know that I’m at least one guy who doesn’t blindly follow the company line.

  27. polegojim says: Apr 1, 2011 10:13 AM

    Auburn is a class organization.

    I’m sure they have dirty laundry like every other school, but to air a report like that without consulting the team coaches, or leaving out a plethora of alternate interview is exactly what Gene called it… pure garbage… BS to be exact.

    I want to beat a noble SEC team for a National Title, not see a team like Auburn get beat up for speculation and biased reporting.

    Reason 1052 why HBO should stick with movies.

  28. polegojim says: Apr 1, 2011 10:27 AM

    PS-At some point, these witch hunts need to end
    Salem all over again. Burn them all at the stake, THEN decide if they’re guilty.

    Paying college athletes is a big deal, as are steriods/performance enhancers, for sure. But I’m tired of the nit-picking and micro-managing at every level. I’m all for a ‘level’ recruiting playing field, but maintaining that level field within reason…not at all cost.

    The HBO report was popular because of the hypersensivity created by the current NCAA environment. Can the NCAA effectively…and desirably… legislate every aspect of recruiting, school visits, boosters, alum, and TATOO’s? Manage the big stuff, leave the rest alone.

    College football has been played for 130+ years. Has it really been so horribly managed that Big NCAA Brother has entered into every aspect of the life of a college athlete and their coaches?

    I think NOT.

  29. auburnalfred says: Apr 1, 2011 10:48 AM

    who is going to pay the players from schools already losing money?

  30. auburnalfred says: Apr 1, 2011 10:49 AM


    HBO did consult AU. they said “No comment”

  31. katanaguy says: Apr 1, 2011 11:00 AM

    USC got jobbed by the NCAA. Reggie Bush crapped all over his own school and it’s coaches. I am soo sick of these athletes committing violations and then the coaches and the school gets penalized for it.

    Athletes out of control. Coaches cannot and should not babysit these guys away from the field. If the kid violates NCAA rules without the schools knowledge or participation make that kid responsible!!…make him inelgible for a pro draft for a couple yrs or so or something along that line.

    Pete Carroll at USC was not a cheater he is not such a fool to purposely violate NCAA rules….and no I am not an alum of USC I am just tired of coaches and schools being held responsible for some of these dirty athletes actions.

  32. edgy says: Apr 1, 2011 11:00 AM

    polegojim says:


    It’s a matter of perspective. Let’s not forget that the popularity of the sport has been because the powers that be did what was right for all the schools and not the Big schools. If they had left things alone because people were satisfied with the status quo then schools like Northwestern and Vanderbilt and Duke, might as well have dropped football because they weren’t getting a chance at guys who could help their programs. There was a time that there were no limits on scholarships and the schools that decided that football was THAT important would hand them out like Pez and the smaller schools had no chance at getting a good player, let alone 85. If you look at how things changed after the limits were imposed, you’d see that teams that had no chance before, started to become competitive. Northwestern went from being the worst program in CFB to being able to make a few trips to bowls like the Rose. What few scholarships that they handed out paled in comparison to Michigan and Ohio State but once they started limiting the scholarships, you started to see other teams become competitive, even in the non-BCS conferences. That doesn’t mean that they lost all the best athletes to smaller schools but that the ones that would have had a harder time making the first team but were good enough to start at another school, now had a reason to go somewhere else. You talk about the 130+ years but what’s happening NOW is no where near what it was like even 40 years ago and let’s face facts, if some of the Big schools had their way, there would less than 64 schools at the I-A level and it would mean that a lot of long time members would have been cast aside, in pursuit of the almighty dollar.

    Let’s be clear that first and foremost, they are, no matter how laughable it might seem, STUDENT-athletes and if the schools don’t put that priority ahead of the game then the NCAA is there to remind them of that. Unfortunately, there is the Catch-22 of the system that won’t allow it to be completely reformed. All the money involved and the fact that the more popular programs will never see enough people forsake them, ensures that the schools will continue to emphasize sports over school and the NCAA has to beat them down to remind them of their REAL purpose.

  33. Deb says: Apr 1, 2011 7:07 PM

    auburnalfred says:
    Apr 1, 2011 10:49 AM

    HBO did consult AU. they said “No comment”


    @auburnalfred …

    I was born into a Tide family, which means it’s my birthright to hate Auburn. But my hatred is straightforward. There’s something sucky about an Auburn-hater who hides behind the name “auburnalfred.” Man up and own your true allegiance.

  34. auburnalfred says: Apr 1, 2011 9:10 PM

    Keep it down home, Deb

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