Former Auburn players are saying NCAA violations were committed under former coach Gene Chizik's watch. (Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Several former Auburn football players said that the program altered grades ensuring eligibility, offered several thousand dollars to entice future NFL draft picks to return for their senior seasons and violated NCAA recruiting rules, reports Roopstigo.com.
Former New York Times and Sports Illustrated columnist Selena Roberts reported that according to three former players, Auburn changed the grades of as many as nine players leading into the 2011 BCS national championship game, which Auburn won 22-19 over Oregon.
Each of the allegations occurred under coach Gene Chizik, who was fired after last season.
One player, Mike McNeil told his story to Roberts. He is charged with armed robbery and was dismissed from the team. His trial begins on April 8 and faces 21 years to life in prison if convicted.
Three players say that before the 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. “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,” says Mike Blanc, a teammate and roommate of Mike McNeil’s. Dyer’s name was cited by McNeil, too. Dyer did not respond to calls to his cell phone. Before the season, McNeil says he was given an F for attendance in a computer science class. “I had B work but I missed too many classes; and I went to the instructor and said, ‘I really need this grade,’” says McNeil. “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.” Within days, McNeil says, the grade was changed from an F to a C and he did not miss a game.
NCAA investigators paid Auburn a visit last year to look into their recruiting practices. They found that one signee had high school transcripts that were found to be forged.
Several players named in the article disputed McNeil's account of what happened or said they were misquoted.