Former Tiger QB Offers Support for AU, Chizik

Pensacola, Fla.--Former Auburn quarterback Reggie Slack on Saturday issued a statement supportive of the AU football program following criticism of the university on its decision to hire Gene Chizik as head coach.

Former Auburn basketball star Charles Barkley, a television basketball analyst, has been highly critical of the decision not to name Buffalo University's Turner Gill as head coach. Gill and Georgia assistant head coach Rodney Garner, who were two of nine candidates interviewed for the position, are black. The lack of black head coaches in Division I football has been a topic of interest in the football world in recent years.

Slack, a standout for the Tigers in the late 1980s on teams coached by Pat Dye, had a successful pro career in the CFL. He was quarterback for the 1997 Grey Cup champions, the Saskatchewan Roughriders.

Slack makes it clear that he believes Barkley is wrong in his charge about why Auburn hired Chizik, away from Iowa State rather than picking Gill. Chizik served as Auburn defensive coordinator from 2002-2004.

The former quarterback says that he gives a "resounding no" to Barkley's charge and adds, "My answer is based simply on my experience as a player for four years and as an alumnus since. In taking this position, it doesn't mean that I support every decision that the athletic administration has made. I think that there have been some mistakes made in the past as far as leadership, the hiring of coaches, and the treatment of former players, but this does not make Auburn University a racist institution.

"I was one of the first black quarterbacks to play at Auburn. During my tenure as a starting quarterback, I think that I received all the recognition and accolades that could be expected. When I left Auburn and was drafted by the Houston Oilers in 1990, I was perturbed at not being drafted higher, but I attribute that totally to the prevailing atmosphere present in the NFL concerning black quarterbacks and not to any stigma attached to me by Auburn University.

"I still feel today that Auburn is one of the finest universities in the country with some of the most supportive alumni and loyal fans that one could ever hope to play in front of. I cherish my experience at Auburn and only wish that everyone could know just how special a place it truly is."

Slack adds, "I think that we as former players need to get behind our new coach and support this program in a positive way. We helped build this program and it would be a disservice to ourselves, our families, and to the institution that has helped mold us into the men we are today, to sit by idly and allow it to disintegrate in front of our eyes."

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