Auburn is once again fighting back.
In an open letter to the Auburn Family released Monday morning, Auburn AD Jay Jacobs issued a point-by-point “Allegation / Fact” response to the recent Roopstigo.com story by former Plainsman sports editor Selena Roberts, paying special attention to the charges of academic fraud.
“As Auburn’s Athletics Director, it’s my job – no matter how proud I am of Auburn – to carefully review charges made against our program when warranted,” Jacob writes.
“As the facts demonstrate, the article is clearly flawed. I want you to know that I will always act on the basis of facts. I will continue to fight for Auburn University, and I will continue to defend this great institution against such attacks.”
Jacobs also threw in a defense of Gene Chizik, who issued a statement in response to Roberts’ story the day it broke.
“One more thing needs to be said about this story, which unfairly attacked former Head Coach Gene Chizik. Coach Chizik came to Auburn with a strong record of rules compliance and a reputation as a man of the utmost character and integrity. I have enormous respect for Coach Chizik, the way he ran his program throughout his entire tenure at Auburn and also the way he left – with dignity and class.”
Let the dismantling begin! (Our favorite is the breakdown of all the beloved Auburn players that wore those dreaded dreadlocks.)
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 first-degree 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.
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