The fallout from a television program that’s yet to air continues Wednesday as Auburn is privately calling into question accusations that will be made against people allegedly associated with the football program.
HBO’s Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel will dive headfirst tonight into what the Columbus Dispatch describes as “the fiscal hypocrisy of major college sports“, and, based on the early reviews, Auburn and “money handshakes” will be a significant theme woven into the hour-long program. As previously noted, four former Auburn football players will levy accusations against AU alumni/boosters that they (the players) were given cash both during the recruiting process and, in some cases, after they became members of the football program.
Stanley McClover, who played at Auburn from 2003-05, said he received $4,000 after recording four sacks against Alabama and that he received money in a book bag during the recruiting process. He also said he received a $500 handshake at LSU and sexual favors at Ohio State while being recruited. He originally committed to Ohio State, but then switched to Auburn after he said he received money.
Troy Reddick, who played at Auburn from 2002-05, said he received $500 in an envelope on several occasions. Chaz Ramsey, who played at Auburn in 2007, said he received handshakes from fans, involving hundreds of dollars. He said he didn’t know the people who gave him the money. Raven Gray, who was at Auburn in 2008 but never played, said he received $2,500-$3,000 to sign.
Reddick said a coach gave him a piece of mail in his office. Reddick said he opened it later and it contained approximately $500.
The motives and the character of the players involved in the program are already being questioned, both by recent members of the football team and at least one unnamed school official. Ramsey, in particular, has been an early target for raised eyebrows as he was involved in a lawsuit against the university for allegedly bungling the treatment of a back injury.
Despite the accusations, Auburn’s not without its own very vocal supporters. A member of the 2010 national championship team took to Twitter Tuesday night, blasting the “bum” players and, in essence, calling them liars.
Lee Ziemba, a member of the 2010 national champion team and who was a freshman with Ramsey in 2007, tweeted Tuesday night: “Funny HBO story just broke. Couple former players lying to bring our past season down. Keep dreaming fellas.”
He later tweeted: “Was recruited by the same folks as the HBO star bums, walked out the same locker room doors as them after games…never a dime.”
Ziemba added one additional tweet in between the two mentioned by the Birmingham News:
One of Ziemba’s fellow lineman took to Twitter as well to defend the program. “We all walked out of the same locker room and had the same coaches yet never had money given to us. It’s a shame what people will say,” Ryan Pugh tweeted last night. Pugh had previously written, in a tweet sent out to current and former Auburn players, “These guys goin on HBO and tryin to sneak us… and say we were all paid. What are they thinking?”
A person close to the Auburn athletic department continued with the lying meme, telling the Birmingham News that the foursome “lied to somebody, either to Auburn or HBO. It calls their credibility into question.”
Rumors are also swirling that the players were paid for their appearance on the HBO program, with the insinuation being the players beefed up — or made up — their claims in order to justify what some speculation says is a five-figure financial windfall. SportsByBrooks.com has already shot down that notion, at least for now, tweeting last night that “HBO is on the record to me that it did not pay or compensate ex-Auburn players in any way for interviews.”
Auburn has declined to publicly comment on the details of the program that have emerged in the last 24 hours, although they did issue a statement to HBO
“Auburn Athletics respectfully declines to comment on these alleged claims apparently made by a few former football players. Compliance with all NCAA and Southeastern Conference rules is a major emphasis and top priority for all of our athletic programs at Auburn University.”
Needless to say, the fallout from this program is far from over, and will likely only get worse in the hours and days after the show actually airs. Auburn has already dodged — maybe — NCAA lightning resulting from the Cam Newton pay-for-play imbroglio; the question now becomes, can they do it a second time?