Report: Auburn Football Engaged in Academic Fraud
The Auburn football program reportedly committed academic fraud to help players play in its 2011 BCS title win over Oregon and remain eligible for games during that season.
Selena Roberts, a sports reporter and Auburn graduate, wrote on Roopstigo, a website she founded, that multiple players had their grades changed so they could be academically eligible.
Mike McNeil, a former Auburn player charged with armed robbery whom Roberts profiled in the piece, told Roberts that he was given an F in a computer science class, but managed to get that grade changed to a C so he would not miss a game after he went to the counselor in the athletic department while playing for Auburn.
"I had B work but I missed too many classes; and I went to the instructor and said, 'I really need this grade,'" McNeil said. "He said that he was sorry but he wouldn’t change it. I went to the person over him. She was in a position of power and backed up the instructor. I then told my counselor with the athletic department."
McNeil told Roberts his grade was changed within days. He also believes he was falsely accused of the armed robbery charge and the university abandoned him, which may have prompted him to speak to Roberts.
Three Auburn players told Roberts that they were told before the BCS championship game against Oregon three years ago, "as many as nine of their teammates would not be able to play in the title game because they were academically ineligible."
One of those players initially deemed ineligible was reportedly running back Mike Dyer.
"We thought we would be without Mike Dyer because he said he was one of them, but Auburn found a way to make those dudes eligible," Mike Blanc, a teammate and roommate of Mike McNeil’s, told Roberts.
Blanc went on Twitter on Wednesday and said the article was "outrageous" and not true. Another player Roberts interviewed denied even knowing who Roberts was.
The program also allegedly paid players to not go to the NFL and, in the case of receiver Darvin Adams, coaches from the program may have sabotaged his NFL prospects by feeding negative reports about him to NFL scouts. Auburn also allegedly gave recruits more stipend money than was legally allowed. The recruit named in the story is Dre Kirkpatrick, who ended up going to Alabama before being drafted in the first round in the NFL Draft by the Cincinnati Bengals. UPDATE: Kirkpatrick has denied the report, noting that hardly any money was given or spent during the recruiting trip in question.
Will Muschamp, the former Auburn defensive coordinator who is now Florida's head coach, also slid money to McNeil after a bad practice, McNeil said.
"I had no clue what it was about because I’d never directly asked him for anything," McNeil told Roberts. "He slid about $400 over to me. He went into a drawer and gave me money and said, 'Is this enough? Is this good?' And I said, 'Yeah, I’m good.'"
Muschamp denied making such payments to Roberts through a spokesperson.
Auburn has been under a cloud of suspicion after Cam Newton came to town and won a national championship for Auburn in his first year with the team. It was reported that Newton's father was shopping him around to schools for six-figure paydays, but the NCAA, after a 13-month investigation, reported
and concluded that there were no major violations in Auburn's recruitment of Newton.