Auburn, Chizik Continue To Challenge Report

In response to a web blog by Selena Roberts, Auburn Athletic Director Jay Jacobs and former coach Gene Chizik answered back strongly on Monday with additional documentation surrounding Auburn's stance.

Auburn, Ala.--Auburn fans are used to being under attack and it seems like they have come more often since the Tigers won the 2010 BCS Championship. Recently the articles from Roopstigo and ESPN have gotten plenty of talk after allegations surrounding the Auburn football program were written about.

Much of the content for the Roopstigo article came from Mike McNeil, a former Auburn defensive back that was preparing to go to trial for Armed Robbery. Deciding to believe his word instead of going to Auburn to find out what their stance was, Roberts wrote a detailed account of what she believed went on during the Gene Chizik era at Auburn. Included in that were talks of rampant drug use and grade tampering.

Having already answered back once on the allegations, Auburn Athletic Director Jay Jacobs fired back again on Monday with a detailed account of fact and fiction sent out to Auburn Alumni. Here is some of the response from Jacobs and it's to the point and fired directly at Roberts.

Watch Jacobs Video

Claims by Roberts are in bold:

The reporter wrote that Melodie Campbell claims the family didn't get a call about the arrest of her son, Mike McNeil, until 3:30 p.m. on March 11, 2011.

Phone records show that Athletics Department employees talked with a member of the family three times before 3:30 p.m. and once afterward on March 11, 2011. Calls were made at 9:01 a.m. (3 minutes), 11:34 a.m. (9 minutes), 1:07 p.m. (7 minutes), and 4:45 p.m. (10 minutes).

Campbell was also quoted as saying, "To this day, no one from the University has talked to the family."

Phone records show that Athletics Department employees talked with a member of the family on March 12, 2011. Calls were made at 11:41 a.m. (1 minute) and 11:44 a.m. (5 minutes). Athletics employees also talked to a member of the family on March 13, 2011. Calls were made at 12:07 p.m. (1 minute) and 8:54 p.m. (18 minutes). In addition, Auburn's team chaplain had continued conversations with a family member, including an 80-minute phone conversation on April 1, 2011.

McNeil's defense attorney was quoted in the story as saying, "To show you how innocent he is, Mike is willing to go to trial because he says he didn't do it."

Five days after the publication of this story, McNeil pled guilty, accepting a deal for three years imprisonment and three years probation for firstdegree robbery.

Roopstigo wrote, "Three players say that before the 2011 BCS Championship game, the team was told that as many as nine of their teammates would not be able to play in the title game because they were academically ineligible. Roopstigo also quoted Mike Blanc as saying, "Auburn found ways to make those dudes eligible."

An internal review by Auburn Athletics and an independent review by Auburn University Internal Auditing found no evidence that improper grade changes occurred. In fact, six players were deemed academically ineligible for the game and did not travel with the team to Arizona. Mike Blanc later Tweeted his reaction to the story: "This article is outrageous and isn't true. The media will do anything for a juicy story."

Roopstigo quoted Mike Blanc as saying, "We thought we would be without Michael Dyer because he was one of them."

Mr. Dyer was never in any jeopardy of being ineligible for the 2011 BCS game. He passed 15 hours during the fall. He only needed 6 to be eligible per NCAA rules. Mr. Dyer actually passed a total of 24 hours through the Summer and Fall semesters in 2010. He had a 2.8 GPA at the end of the Fall semester.

Mike McNeil is quoted as saying of a computer 1000 class, "I was doing B work, but missed too many classes; and I went to the instructor and said, ‘I really need this grade." McNeil contends that his academic advisor got the grade changed from an F to a C.

Mr. McNeil's grade was changed after documented excused absences, due to medical reasons, were provided to his professor. The professor followed institutional policy in making the change.

Mr. McNeil says he recalls coaches giving him $500 to host Dre Kirkpatrick while Mr. Kirkpatrick was on an Official Visit to Auburn.

Dre Kirkpatrick never attended Auburn on an official visit. After the article was published, Mr. Kirkpatrick publicly stated about his unofficial visit to Auburn, "Nobody gave me any money, and nobody spent any money on me that I know of. I don't know what they would have spent it on. We went to a party, but nobody was paying to get in there. We just walked in like everybody else seemed to be doing."

Ms. Roberts wrote, "As players recall, more than 40 players tested positive for recreational drugs after the National Championship."

In a six-month period from August 2010 through February 2011, three football players tested positive for recreational drugs out of 231 tests performed. In the two months after the National Championship game, an additional seven football players tested positive for synthetic marijuana, prior to synthetic marijuana being added to Auburn's drug policy as a banned substance.

Roopstigo quoted McNeil as saying, "When the new coaches came in under Chizik, they implemented new rules and it was kind of no tolerance, but it always seemed to be aimed at black guys. Chizik didn't like tattoos and he didn't like dreads."

Numerous players on the 2010, 2001 and 2012 teams wore dreadlocks. Specifically from the 2010 team, they included Darvin Adams, T'Sharvan Bell, Josh Bynes, Kenneth Carter, AJ Greene, Byron Isom, Mike McNeil and Ryan Smith. None were made to cut them off.

The story claims McNeil was not read his Miranda rights.

In the "Affidavit Charging Crime" document available to the public, it is stated, "All four suspects made rights-advised statements admitting involvement in the robbery."

Roberts contends that Auburn obstructed McNeil's transfer process to Livingstone College.

After his arrest, Mr. McNeil did not properly withdraw from Auburn University, making him academically ineligible to transfer per NCAA rules. Auburn Athletics Compliance and the Office of General Counsel assisted Mr. McNeil in addressing those issues with the NCAA. Those efforts ultimately rendered him eligible to play at Livingstone College.

Jacobs also had a message for the Auburn Family in response to the recent attacks in the media and the tough season in athletics for the Tigers:

"There is no question that this has been a tough year for Auburn Athletics. We all expect better, and we know we have to win. As disappointing as this year has been, rest assured we will bounce back. We always have.

"As part of our efforts to get better, we are also committed to being as transparent as possible with our stakeholders. That is why I wanted to let you know that a top-notch team of current and former coaches, athletics administrators, student-athletes and business executives will be coming in to give us a comprehensive evaluation. We welcome this review.

"The review committee, which was selected by President Gogue, is comprised of individuals whose expertise and experience puts them in position to independently and objectively evaluate the Athletics Department—while also offering insight into our strengths as well as the areas in which we must improve.

"It will be a top-to-bottom review, but Dr. Gogue has asked the committee to focus on five specific areas. They include the following: academic and support services for our student-athletes; the department's financial management and health; the gameday experience for fans and customer service; all aspects of competition, including sportsmanship, compliance and winning; and the department's management structure, including the effectiveness of its leadership.

"This review of athletics is part of Dr. Gogue's regular evaluation process that takes place annually for all senior administrators and campus units."

Making his first public comments since a release following the initial story, former Auburn Coach Gene Chizik was on WJOX radio in Birmingham Monday and answered questions on a variety of topics. One of those was concerning making the right decisions off the field and the education programs in place at Auburn. Chizik said they did everything they could to educate players on making the right decisions and even included a meeting the day of the arrests of the four players for armed robbery.

"I can assure you this as the head coach at at Auburn: there were multiple educational sessions on making the right choices, doing the right things, to the point that, even when that unfortunate event happened," Chizik says. " had a team meeting that morning and we were getting ready to go on spring break. I explicitly told them and reminded them of the decisions they needed to make. They were getting ready to have seven or eight days consecutively off. The importance of not embarrassing their family, this university, everybody you represent, because the truth of it is, is when one player makes a bad decision, then it exponentially affects everybody around them. So, it's really tough.

"What I want to make clear is you can't take two players -- or four players in this case -- that made a bad choice. You can make a case depending on everybody else. Let's be honest, OK? It still comes down to personal responsibility, so I feel very confident that on a daily basis we did what we should do to educate these players, to try to coach them into making the right decisions, if they got off on the wrong path we tried to direct them back on the right path. We did that."

Chizik also responded to Darvin Adams' role in the original story. Mentioned as having received money to stay in school while at Auburn, Adams has since come out on record saying that was not the case. Chizik says he's proud of Adams for standing up for what is right and truthful.

"Darvin is a very quiet guy," Chizik says. "He loves to play football and he doesn't like the spotlight. He doesn't want to be the media darling. What was important to Darvin was to get the truth out. The allegation, if you go back, was that he was offered money to stay. That's just simply not true. I want to go back and address the facts and that's why I'm very proud of him. He addressed the facts and the facts were no coach and no booster offered him anything to play at Auburn, and no coach or booster offered him anything to stay at Auburn. That was simply a bogus allegation."

Chizik also addressed Cam Newton and the claims that have surrounded him seemingly endlessly since 2010. While Auburn continues to have to fight off rumor and rumor about the program, Chizik says once again the facts don't add up.

"The NCAA has probably spent the better part of two years at Auburn," Chizik says. "If you're an educated person, starting back at Cam Newton which I want to refresh everyone's memory started out as a Mississippi State problem and then somehow for 13 months became an Auburn problem.

"The NCAA comes in and does their due-diligence, which they do well. When they come in and they're going to do their investigations and there is something wrong then they're going to find it. Let's look at the facts. Let's look at Miami and Ohio State and North Carolina and most recently Oregon. They spent the better part of two years at Auburn so would it not be common sense that when they came in to look at Auburn about payments of players they found nothing.

"The problem is for 13 months, when there is an investigation going on, are there people frustrated because I can't say what's going on? Can Auburn come out and say that? No, because if you no the strategies of the NCAA you can't impede the process of an investigation. Our compliance department, myself, anyone related to Auburn, we can't come out and do that. That's going to be impeding the process of an investigation.

"I'm absolutely sure there was nothing going on. That's why in the first part of the season people are asking us 'how can you be so focused?' I was adamant and sure they weren't going to find anything with Auburn. My point is the NCAA leaves and you get a one-sentence response of getting drug through the mud and what did they find? They said they found nothing. Here's something people need to know. Auburn has not had a major violation in 20 years. My suspicion is that when they leave Auburn again and tie up whatever they're finishing tying up at this point, a year from now it will be 21 years. That's how confident I am."

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