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Auburn, Gene Chizik respond to latest Auburn report

Gene Chizik AP

Yesterday, writer Selena Roberts, formerly of the New York Times and Sports Illustrated, released a story on her website alleging, while centering on former safety Mike McNeil,multiple NCAA violations dating back to and before the Gene Chizik era, including impermissible benefits and academic fraud.

Current Florida coach Will Muschamp, named specifically in the story for allegedly giving McNeil $400 in cash after a practice, has already vehemently denied any involvement.

Now, Auburn and Chizik, fired from the school last fall, are doing the same. In two separate releases — Chizik’s being a rather lengthy one — the school and the coach break their silence on the report. You can probably take a guess as the exact nature and tone of each, which you can read below.

Auburn AD Jay Jacobs:

“Anytime accusations are made against Auburn, we take them seriously. 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.

“Unfortunately, the reporter who published this story did not fully represent to us what the story was about when requesting an interview. We were only told that the reporter was working on a story about the alleged armed robbery involving four former football players, which occurred over two years ago.

“We were never told the story would include allegations about academic fraud or improper benefits. Had we known that, we would have responded immediately with the statement above.”

And from Chizik:

“During my tenure at Auburn, the NCAA conducted a multi-year investigation into the Auburn football program that they called “fair and thorough.” The NCAA focused intently on widespread accusations about Auburn players being paid and other alleged recruiting violations. The NCAA conducted 80 interviews. In October 2011, the NCAA rejected “rampant public speculation online and in the media.” Unfortunately, the recent story published by Selena Roberts is more of the same. It once again portrays Auburn University, current and former coaches, professors, fans, supporters and community officials in a false light.

Unfortunately, Ms. Roberts’ story is 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. 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.

As for logic, the notion that the conduct inferred by Ms. Roberts was occurring under the NCAA’s nose, at the very same time the NCAA is conducting its thorough investigation, lacks merit. Further, the notion that there was ever an attempt to sabotage any Auburn student-athlete’s attempt to play professional football is outrageous. Auburn’s success in transitioning student-athletes to the NFL benefits both the student-athlete and the Auburn program.

I remain part of the Auburn family and take these attacks on myself, the University and community seriously. During my time at Auburn, the administrators, professors and academic staff were of the highest integrity. Additionally, the inference that there was academic support staff that worked together with professors to change grades is absurd. As an Auburn resident, I take great pride in the quality and integrity of our police department. Theyenforce the law equally and fairly and my dealings with police Chief Tommy Dawson and his staff have been nothing short of excellent. He has handled many high profile cases with the upmost integrity and professionalism. To imply anything otherwise is simply wrong.

If there is a sad truth here, it is that there are no repercussions for bloggers who blast out widespread, venomous allegations and inferences in such an irresponsible manner. To make bold and outrageous conclusions on such thin support is a travesty.

During my tenure as Auburn’s head coach, we kept the well-being of our student- athletes at the forefront of every decision. We ran our program with the highest level of integrity and accountability. Period. I make absolutely no apologies for that. I stand firm in my statements, my support of Auburn University, its student- athletes (present and former), faculty, staff and community officials. As I stated during the NCAA investigation, I am comforted knowing that the truth always prevails.”

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16 Responses to “Auburn, Gene Chizik respond to latest Auburn report”
  1. lbroberts123 says: Apr 4, 2013 7:46 PM

    Well said by both.

  2. Deb says: Apr 4, 2013 7:58 PM

    Well said by both–particularly Chizik.

    If Roberts attempted to interview university officials without disclosing the true nature of her story, I’d find that both disingenous and unprofessional.

  3. bender4700 says: Apr 4, 2013 8:35 PM

    So far, all the recent major “violations” have been players with talent collecting financial gain while being prevented by an institution making billions off their talent and effort.

    It’s safe to say the NCAA needs to do some serious soul searching.

    Besides, the NCAA would screw this investigation up too.

    But really, who here really feels like USC, Ohio State, Miami, Auburn, and any other program that had violation issues (outside of Penn State) are really “cheaters”?

    Man has service or product that people desire but must spend 3 to 4 years not getting paid for his effort. Institution makes billions off him.

    South Park had it right, the NCAA basically enforces slavery.

  4. be4bama says: Apr 4, 2013 8:36 PM

    AU should revoke Selena Roberts diploma!!

  5. florida727 says: Apr 4, 2013 9:26 PM

    Selena Roberts is an idiot. She’s a prime example of exactly what’s wrong with journalists today. Sensationalize a story as much as you can to get the greatest readership and blog discussion going as possible, facts be damned. You think she cares if the story’s allegations are true or not? No freaking way. She’s famous… at least for the next 15 minutes.

  6. sabatimus says: Apr 4, 2013 9:35 PM

    Where there’s synthetic marijuana, there’s fire.

  7. bralinshan says: Apr 4, 2013 10:26 PM

    I’m hardly an Auburn fan but this “story” sucks…Selena is a hack. First, a “story” is not one kid whose been involved in armed robbery and has since backtracked.

    Imagine if anyone with an axe to grind calls up a reporter, makes crazy accusations, and then we all look and call it a scandal….

    Selena Roberts is desperate for some action on her website. This might be a “story” at some point…but it’s 100% NOT a story right now. You’d better bring more to the table than some disgruntled felon talking smack one day…and then denying what he said the next day.

    There used to be some basic standards and protocol in journalism. Today it’s the wild west and it’s irresponsible. And it’s fueled by a desperation by people like Roberts to become relevant and drive site traffic.

  8. glink123 says: Apr 4, 2013 11:04 PM

    At what point does Auburn consider filing a libel lawsuit? Seriously, if the university is as innocent as they claim, they should file tomorrow. Freedom of Speech only extends so far. If the Blog is full of defamatory lies, shut her down with a lawsuit. Put up or shut up.

  9. bralinshan says: Apr 4, 2013 11:44 PM

    My guess is that in the next few years you will start seeing lawsuits when people, companies, or institutions are slandered. It will be interesting to see how it plays out because in the old days, journalists had a much higher standard before they launched against somebody…

    FYI it’s too early to know what auburns official response will be…they have to decide. Bottom line, these charges may be accurate but I would hardly take the lone word of this source…

    Interesting the source is already back peddling…would anyone want their reputation riding on the verbal word of one lone source? A player in the Atlanta falcons camp was just released from a 5 year prison term for rape because evidence came out that he was innocent. His accuser made it up. Sometimes people make stuff up….happens all the time.

  10. nfl4days says: Apr 5, 2013 1:08 AM

    After further investigation, the NCAA has decided to impose a 2 year bowl game suspension on the Miami Hurricanes.

  11. Deb says: Apr 5, 2013 1:24 AM

    @bralinshan …

    Good and true comments on the sad state of the industry.

  12. bbeaman78 says: Apr 5, 2013 10:19 AM

    I thinks there some truth to all the accusations, but the media has just made a mess of all of this. Add the fact the NCAA is a complete joke and has no business investigating such accusations when they can’t even keep their own investigators in line.

  13. taintedlombardis says: Apr 5, 2013 10:25 AM


  14. tdub821 says: Apr 5, 2013 12:06 PM

    Changing grades, paying players (and family memebers), shady recruiting tactics, providing weed…hey, just another day in the $EC. Ohio $tate would fit in perfectly.

  15. thetooloftools says: Apr 5, 2013 12:23 PM

    The Ncaa is more concered with keeping it’s po$ition of power then is is enforcing anything.
    Like Cam Newton said “the money is just too good at Auburn”.

  16. 973ian says: Apr 7, 2013 6:19 AM

    tell em coach

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