Former Auburn football coach Gene Chizik vehemently refuted a report that said former Auburn players have accused the school of changing grades, bribery and a laundry list of other allegations while Chizik was guiding the program to its national championship in 2010.
Three former Tigers, including Mike McNeil who is on trial for armed robbery, detailed the allegations to former New York Times and Sports Illustrated columnist Selena Roberts, whose report appears on her Website Roopstigo.com. Chizik equates the report to some of the controversy surrounding former Auburn quarterback Cam Newton, whose eligibility was questioned by the NCAA.
“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,” Chizik said in a statement released by his agent.
Chizik was fired last year after the team finished 3-9, two seasons after he brought Auburn a national championship. He finished with a 38-38 record in four seasons at Auburn and was replaced by former Arkansas State coach Gus Malzahn.
“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,” Chizik wrote. “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.”
Among some of the allegations reported by Roberts are:
- Then-defensive coordinator Will Mushcamp, now the head coach at Florida, once tried to give McNeil $400;
- McNeil said players who hosted recruits were given far more than the $50 allowed by NCAA;
- Police targeted black players and drug tested black players more often than white players;
- Grades were altered so that players who were academically ineligible could participate in the 2011 BCS championship game;
- Darvin Adams, a wide receiver was offered thousands of dollars by the coaching staff to return for his senior season. Adams went undrafted after refusing the coaches’ overtures due in part to negative reports Auburn gave NFL scouts.
A Florida spokesperson denied the payment allegation to Roberts on Muschamp’s behalf. Neither Auburn nor Chizik has responded to the report, CBSSports.com reported.
Roberts reported that former Auburn defensive tackle Mike Blanc indicated that the school “found a way” for nine players who the team had been told would be ineligible for the 2011 BCS Championship Game — including MVP Mike Dyer — to play in the game.
Last year, the NCAA investigated the recruitment of a Memphis-area high school player, whose transcripts were forged. Auburn also came under scrutiny in 2010 for its recruitment of quarterback Cam Newton.