Perhaps not so surprisingly, those tied to a story about SEC players accepting impermissible benefits has stirred a bit of controversy. Nobody wants to be tied to controversy of course, so it is also not a surprise those indicted in the report are either not focusing on the story right now or coming out and telling a different side of the story.
John Phillips is one of the agents reported to have been connected to former Alabama player Luther Davis, who allegedly served as a middleman between agents and a handful of college football players around the SEC. Phillips has a bit of a sketchy background, having admitted to editing a video of Gus Malzahn‘s wife in 2011. Phillips has stated his quotes used in the story were taken out of context. He also released a statement suggesting the information in the report is “erroneous and out of context.”
The following statement was first shared by AL.com.
I have cooperated and will continue to cooperate with those wanting information about any former relationship with Luther Davis to my days, largely back in 2009, as an NFL Contract Advisor. I will not be commenting to media until any such investigation concludes so as not to interfere with any such investigation. I spoke to Alabama in May about some of these issues and continue to. I have also presented some of it to the NFLPA.
I find the report to be erroneous and out of context. The writer of the story chose not return my call from September 10, choosing to go to press without getting further comment from me. We live in an age of reckless reporting and media wanting to put justice or facts aside for a quick, hasty story. It’s unfortunate.
Luther and I worked on a book in which I interviewed 14 former members of Alabama football teams about a host of issues. That book is in the editing process, as I have over 60 hours of recordings and books of notes. It truly changed the way I think about amateur athletics. My office has also issued cash or checks to Javier Arenas, Baron Huber, Cory Reamer, Brandon Deaderick, Brian Selman, Leigh Tiffin, Terry Grant, Michael Johnson, Preston Dial, Eryk Anders and others- all post eligibility.
DJ Fluker has never, in any way, been compensated by me. I am no longer a NFL Agent. I have not had a player signed to a NFL contract in years. Seeing chaplains asking for money, assistant coaches asking for money through representatives, and the like, quickly ruined any delusions I had that there was room for me in the business.
I have no further comment. Please respect that and know I am and will do everything I can to cooperate with any investigation.
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.”