Former Mississippi State player Fletcher Cox was accused of accepting a free plane ride from an agent prior to his college eligibility running out. On Thursday, following practice with the Philadelphia Eagles, Cox said he is not concerning himself with the story right now.
“Right now I can’t comment on that because I don’t know what’s going on,” Cox said after practice on Thursday, according to Eliot Shorr-Parks of NJ.com. “I don’t worry about those things. I’ll have more when I hear from my agent.”
A report by Yahoo Sports linked Cox in an agent scandal that involved four former and one current SEC football player. In it, Cox is accused of accepting a plane ticket from Alabama to Florida valued at over $1,200, which of course would be a violation of NCAA rules.
Cox was drafted in the first round of the 2012 NFL Draft by the Philadelphia Eagles with the 12th overall pick. Cox and the Eagles host the San Diego Chargers this weekend in the home opener for former Oregon head coach Chip Kelly and the Eagles. Cox remains focused on what lies ahead of him rather than focusing on what may have happened in the past.
“It’s not a distraction,” Cox said in the NJ.com story. “I’m focused, it’s not on my mind. I came to practice, and whatever happens happens.”
As for Cox, nothing will happen to him at this point. Mississippi State though could have a tougher road ahead of them. Already on probation by the NCAA, any violation could put the program at risk of some sort of sanctions. That assumes the NCAA can find a way to conduct an investigation that would result in the same information provided by Yahoo Sports and have testimony from key witnesses that would verify the information.
As if we were not already occupied by the Oklahoma State story being revealed piece-by-piece by Sports Illustrated, we have yet another report out claiming a handful of players from the SEC had broken NCAA rules by accepting impermissible benefits before playing their final college football game. According to a report published by Yahoo Sports Wednesday, the former SEC players include Alabama offensive tackle D.J. Fluker, Tennessee quarterback Tyler Bray, Mississippi State defensive tackle Fletcher Cox and receiver Chad Bumphis all reportedly accepted extra benefits that would have violated NCAA rules. Also on the report is current Tennessee defensive end Maurice Couch.
The report suggests former Alabama defensive end Luther Davis served as a middleman between NFL agents, financial advisers and top college football talent. The evidence to support the report’s claims come from a collection of text messages and financial records including money transfers and bank statements and more. The report says three agents and a financial adviser admitted to Yahoo they had engaged in providing benefits to Davis, who played for Alabama between 2007 and 2010, although Yahoo was unable to receive a comment from the former Alabama player.
There is no evidence at this time that any coaches at Alabama, Tennessee or Mississippi State were aware of the alleged violations in the report. The NCAA will surely take a note of this report and could take a closer look in to any potential violations. If confirmed, Alabama’s 2011 and 2012 season national championships could be vacated in similar fashion to USC’s vacated BCS title during the Reggie Bush investigation, as Fluker was an active player during both seasons for the Tide. As Yahoo Sports notes, Tennessee and Mississippi State are programs on probation and could be at risk of harsher penalties if the NCAA could manage to confirm any of the information through their own investigation. Given the paper trail the Yahoo report was able to dig up, that could be a realistic result if the NCAA takes a closer look.
The report is very detailed and presents solid evidence to support the claims. Coupled with the ongoing story regarding Oklahoma State, and this is quite a week for off-field news. None of the stories comes as much of a shock given the state of the game today, but it is just another headache for the NCAA and various schools to have to work through.
UPDATE (6:50 PM ET): Alabama Athletics director Bill Battle has released a statement saying the school had been made aware of the details of the report and that Alabama was underway with their own internal investigation. Here is the full statement from Battle:
“We have been aware of some of the allegations in today’s story and our compliance department was looking into this situation prior to being notified that this story was actually going to be published. Our review is ongoing. We diligently educate our student-athletes on maintaining compliance with NCAA rules, and will continue to do so.”