Spice

Auburn fires back at ESPN’s fake weed story

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And the gloves have come off.

As we wade our way through the morass created by Selena Roberts‘ salacious story alleging misconduct in the Auburn football program, ESPN the Magazine/E:60 released a report Thursday evening alleging a synthetic marijuana — spice — epidemic on the Tigers’ 2010 BCS championship team.  Specifically, the WWL and its sources alleged that a dozen football players from that team failed tests for “the designer drug” and that another dozen players used it but were never caught.

Now, this is where things get interesting.

According to a statement released Thursday night by Auburn attributed to athletic director Jay Jacobs, a test for the fake weed was not made available by the university’s testing company until January 24, 2011; “Auburn added the test to its panel on Jan. 27, 2011,” Jacobs said in his statement.  That addition would’ve come nearly three weeks after AU won its first national championship in over five decades after beating Oregon in the BCS title game.

In August of 2011, seven months after the screening began at Auburn, the NCAA added “spice” to its list of banned substances according to Rivals.com.

Another allegation in the ESPN story was that while Jacobs and then-head coach Gene Chizik were “aware of the football team’s 12 positive tests for synthetic marijuana, they kept the results secret, even from the parents of the players.”  From Jacobs’ statement:

A parent interviewed told ESPN they would have done more to help her son had we done more to let her know he was in trouble. That is incorrect. The facts demonstrate that our coaches and Sports Medicine professionals had regular communication with the parents and that every effort was made to warn our student-athletes about the dangers of synthetic marijuana.

What those facts are that could demonstrate communication are not clear.

Additionally, the parent of a former Auburn football (anonymously) took head-on the accusations by ESPN that positive spice tests were kept secret.  From Rivals.com:


One parent of an Auburn player that tested positive for “spice” during that time period disagrees.

“It’s just false and inaccurate. As a parent, I was notified, so that bumps the fact that no parents were notified,” said one parent that wishes to remain anonymous. “I haven’t seen the ESPN story, but if they said the parents weren’t notified, that’s not true. I was called and I know two other parents that were notified, too.

“I know for sure two, from me seeing them down there. If they notified me and two other parents, if there was anyone else, I’m sure they were told. I don’t understand this.”

So, yes, this is officially a mess.  A mess of media reports counterpunched by an institution that’s had its fair share of scrapes with the investigative arm — such as it is anymore — of the NCAA over the past couple of years.  An NCAA that in no way, shape or form has even a semblance of credibility left to even think about launching yet another investigation while it’s mired in internal ineptness of epic proportions.

And, for those who are interested in full disclosure, below the jump are the two statements released by Auburn Thursday night.  The first is what AU describes as a statement provided to ESPN the Magazine on March 29, the second an open letter to the Auburn family by Jacobs.  Make of them what you will…

After a thorough internal review, the Auburn Athletics Department believes many of the allegations made by the individuals interviewed for this story are baseless and inaccurate.

As the District Attorney told a jury in open court a year ago, Auburn football and Auburn’s policies had nothing to do with what happened the night that four former football players were arrested for armed robbery. Unfortunately, the defendants in this case are simply facing the consequences of their actions.

The facts clearly demonstrate that the Auburn Athletics Department and the Committee on Intercollegiate Athletics acted appropriately and aggressively in response to the growing threat of synthetic marijuana during the 2010-2011 academic year.

Auburn Athletics began testing its student-athletes for synthetic marijuana three days after a test became available. Since our drug testing policy was amended to include synthetic marijuana as a banned substance, there have been three positive tests for the drug out of more than 2,500 drug tests administered.

All of our student-athletes are regularly educated on the harms of all types of substance use and abuse, including synthetic marijuana. In addition to education, any student-athletes who test positive for drugs are required to seek professional counseling.

Auburn Athletics has always and will continue to put the well being of our student-athletes at the forefront of our mission.

____________________

Dear Auburn Family,

You may have seen a story on ESPN.com this evening about the former Auburn football players who were dismissed two years ago for their involvement in an armed robbery.

The story chronicles the former players’ use of synthetic marijuana, which the defendants in the robbery case have used as their primary defense in court. We expect another, more in-depth story to appear in an upcoming print edition of ESPN The Magazine.

We cooperated with ESPN in the story because of how appropriately and aggressively the Auburn Athletics Department and the Committee on Intercollegiate Athletics acted in response to the growing threat of synthetic marijuana during the 2010-2011 academic year.

As a father of three, I sympathize with the parents of the young men who face prison sentences for their alleged involvement in the armed robbery. While they have a right to speak out, I have an obligation to share the facts, which clearly show Auburn Athletics tried to help these former student-athletes.

Some of the statements made in the story are wrong and need to be corrected, while others need to be put into proper context. One player interviewed by ESPN, for example, alleges that up to half of the 2010 football team was using synthetic marijuana. It’s hard to be more wrong than that. The facts and our drug testing results simply do not support such a claim.

A parent interviewed told ESPN they would have done more to help her son had we done more to let her know he was in trouble. That is incorrect. The facts demonstrate that our coaches and Sports Medicine professionals had regular communication with the parents and that every effort was made to warn our student-athletes about the dangers of synthetic marijuana.

Allow me to share with you the facts that we provided to the reporter. Some of them were included in the initial story. Some were not.

• Auburn Athletics began testing for synthetic marijuana three days after our testing company made a test available. A test became available on Jan. 24, 2011, and Auburn added the test to its panel on Jan. 27, 2011.
• Since our drug testing policy was amended to include synthetic marijuana as a banned substance, there have been three positive tests for the drug out of more than 2,500 drug tests administered. Those three individuals are no longer on Auburn Athletics rosters.
• As soon as our Director of Sports Medicine was aware that synthetic marijuana was a drug readily available in convenience stores in the fall of 2010, Auburn Athletics contacted our drug testing company to inquire about whether they had a test for synthetic marijuana and when one would be made available. They did not have a test at the time.
At the same time, our Director of Sports Medicine began education efforts aimed at our coaches and student-athletes.
• Auburn Athletics provided urine samples to the drug testing company to assist them in their efforts to develop a test.
• The Director of Sports Medicine and former Coach Gene Chizik both addressed the football team about the dangers of synthetic marijuana at multiple team meetings in the Fall of 2010, before a test was available. A story about the drug was placed on the locker of every football player on the team.
• Within the first few months of testing, 3 percent of our student-athletes tested positive for synthetic marijuana.
• Phone records show that more than 50 phone calls were made to the parents of two former student-athletes who were interviewed by ESPN.
• The father of one of the student-athletes who was apparently interviewed by ESPN was sent a letter informing him that his son had failed a drug test for regular marijuana two months before the robbery.
• The Auburn Drug Testing/Drug Education Advisory Committee recommended to the Committee on Intercollegiate Athletics that synthetic marijuana be added to the Auburn Athletics drug testing policy on March 14, 2011. The policy change was adopted that day.
• Penalties for the use of synthetic marijuana were put into place for the next academic year beginning in August of 2011. Since it became a banned substance under the drug testing policy, only three student-athletes have tested positive for synthetic marijuana out of more than 2,500 tests administered.

I hope the facts clear up any misconceptions about drug use among our student-athletes. It is important for you to know that Auburn Athletics conducts approximately 1,500 drug tests each academic year. Less than one percent of our student-athletes test positive for illegal substances.

Report: Baylor regents set to oust Ken Starr as president by month’s end

WACO, TX - OCTOBER 17:  Baylor University President Ken Starr runs onto the field with students before the Baylor Bears take on the West Virginia Mountaineers at McLane Stadium on October 17, 2015 in Waco, Texas.  (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
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It appears that the first domino in Baylor’s sordid sexual assault scandal is about to tumble.  Whether the biggest one, football-wise, is far behind remains to be seen.

According to a report from Chip Brown of HornDigest.com, Baylor’s Board of Regents are expected to part ways with president Ken Starr by the end of the month, if not sooner.  The report of Starr’s impending ouster comes less than a week after another damning Outside the Lines report in which further allegations of sexual assault and/or violence committed by Bears football players were, essentially, swept under the rug.

In one new allegation from the most recent report,  an alleged victim who was a BU student at the time claimed she was assaulted twice by her boyfriend, a BU football player.  She claimed that even as Starr and head football coach Art Briles were aware of her claims, the unidentified player was never disciplined by either the football program or the university.

At least six women, and perhaps more, have claimed to have been sexually assaulted or physically abused by BU football players from 2009-16.  In late March of this year, a woman filed a lawsuit against Baylor in which she claims she was raped by a Bear football player, Tevin Elliott, and that the university was “deliberately indifferent to complaints by student victims of rape.

In 2014, Elliott was convicted of sexually assaulting another different BU student at a party in 2012 and was sentenced to 20 years in prison.

Another former Bear football player, Sam Ukwuachu, was convicted of sexually assaulting a BU student in October of 2013 following the Homecoming win over Iowa State and was sentenced to 10 years felony probation.  In December of last year, the victim in that case reached a settlement with the university.

Given the spate of negative headlines, some have begun to wonder just how long Briles, 65-37 since taking over in 2008, can survive as the Bears’ coach.  Based on Brown’s report, it appears that is indeed the case as the regents are seemingly prepared to make Starr the one and only public sacrificial lamb.

The three dozen members of the Baylor regents board are preparing to blame Starr – not football coach Art Briles – for failed leadership during the ongoing scandal over how the school handled reports of rape and assault made against five BU football players

The only thing that is clear, according to sources, is that Starr – not Briles – is going to be the fall guy for the school’s inaction

Sources said Briles, who has revived a moribund football program by winning at least 10 games in four of the past five years, including two Big 12 titles and a Heisman Trophy (Robert Griffin III in 2011), will continue as football coach, barring any evidence turning up that Briles was engaged in a coverup. 

Brown’s closing quote is the most damning when it comes to the current climate in Waco.

“The feeling is if the board got rid of Art (Briles), they’d be sitting in a $300 million mausoleum instead of that new football stadium.”

Yep, just win, baby.  Just when you thought this story couldn’t get any more sickening…

Newest Bevo to make debut for Texas vs. Notre Dame

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The news wasn’t so positive on the mascot front for LSU Monday.  Tuesday, there’s a little more uplifting news on that front coming from Texas.

UT has announced that the university has identified the next longhorn who will serve as the school’s live mascot.  Bevo XV is in the midst of training for the job, and will make its debut  when the football team does for the 2016 season — Sept. 4 at home against Notre Dame in one of the most anticipated games in a highly-anticipated opening weekend.

“Bevo has embodied Longhorn pride and Texas spirit for 100 years,” UT president Gregory Fenves said in a statement. “He is part of our campus culture and has watched our football team’s successes for decades. I’m looking forward to seeing Bevo XV in his place of honor on the field this coming season.”

“We are excited to kick off the upcoming athletics season by introducing the newest edition of one of our most beloved traditions at The University of Texas,” a statement from athletic director Mike Perrin began. “It’s also appropriate to unveil Bevo XV during this 100th anniversary year. We all look forward to meeting Bevo XV in September.”

Bevo XV replaces Bevo XIV, who died in October of 2015.  Three days prior to the longhorn’s death, it was announced that he had been diagnosed with bovine leukemia.

The debut of Bevo XV coincides with the 100th anniversary of Bevo’s first appearance at a Longhorns football game.

BC suspends Troy Flutie following drunk-driving arrest

CHESTNUT HILL, MA - SEPTEMBER 26:  Troy Flutie #16 of the Boston College Eagles makes a pass during the first quarter against the Northern Illinois Huskies at Alumni Stadium on September 26, 2015 in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
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Not surprisingly, one member of the Boston College football team is being sent off on a forced sabbatical.

Monday, BC announced that Troy Flutie has been indefinitely suspended from the program.  The move came a few hours after his arrest on alcohol-related charges was made public.

After hitting a curb with a vehicle very early Saturday morning, Flutie was ultimately arrested and charged with operating a vehicle under the influence of liquor, possession of an open container of liquor while driving and being a person younger than 21 in possession of liquor.  He was also issued a citation for a marked lanes violation.

The school said that the quarterback/wide receiver faces “additional university sanctions pending the outcome of the court proceedings” as well.

Flutie began his BC career as a quarterback and, after redshirting as a true freshman, played in eight games in 2015. He completed 24-of-49 passes for three touchdowns and an interception during his limited action.  Because of injuries at the position, Flutie was one of four Eagles quarterbacks to attempt at least 42 passes last season.

This spring, Flutie,the son of former BC wide receiver Darren Flutie and nephew of 1984 Heisman winner Doug Flutie, was moved to wide receiver.

Social media post indicates ex-Miami FB Walter Tucker’s headed to FIU

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - NOVEMBER 01:  Walter Tucker #44 of the Miami Hurricanes takes the field during a game against the North Carolina Tar Heels  at Sun Life Stadium on November 1, 2014 in Miami Gardens, Florida.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
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While Walter Tucker has left Miami, it doesn’t appear he’l be leaving the state of Florida.

On social media over the weekend, Walter Tucker, by way of Matt Porter of Palm Beach Post, has indicated that he will continue his collegiate playing career at FIU. That football program has not announced one way or the other the fullback’s connection to the football program.

In his Instagram post, Tucker, in addition to revealing his father has cancer, posted a photo of himself superimposed over FIU’s football stadium as well as the hashtags “#FIUNATION,” “#PANTHERNATION.” and “#PANTHERPRIDE.”

 

It’s unclear if Tucker would be eligible to play immediately in 2016 with the Panthers.

Tucker played in 32 games the past three seasons, mainly on special teams. He carried the ball three times for eight yards in 2015, and caught one pass for eight yards the year before.

In February, new Hurricanes head coach Mark Richt announced that Tucker had decided to transfer from The U.