Auburn's internal review into allegations by former players of academic fraud before the 2011 BCS National Championship Game found no evidence of wrongdoing, athletic director Jay Jacobs said
MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Former Auburn coach Gene Chizik lashed out at media reports accusing the football program of flouting NCAA rules and called it “the most scrutinized” and sometimes vilified program in the sport.
Chizik spoke Monday evening, hours after Tigers athletic director Jay Jacobs said an internal review into allegations by former players of academic fraud before the 2011 BCS National Championship Game found no evidence of wrongdoing.
Chizik, who was fired in November after a 3-9 season, said he ran a clean program and decried reports going back to quarterback Cam Newton’s Heisman Trophy-winning season three years ago.
“The notion that we would pay a player in any shape or form to come to Auburn or stay at Auburn is absurd,” Chizik said.
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More recent accusations surfaced in separate reports. ESPN The Magazine reported there was widespread synthetic-marijuana use among football players from the national-title team and a former New York Times and Sports Illustrated reporter, Selena Roberts, raised allegations from former players of grade changes and payments or offers of money.
“I’m tired of these attacks on Auburn,” said Jacobs, adding that the football program hadn’t been found guilty of a major violation in 20 years.
Roberts cited three players who said the team was informed as many as nine were ineligible for the BCS title game against Oregon, including tailback Mike Dyer.
Jacobs said six players were academically ineligible and none made the trip to Arizona. He said the internal review found all university policies for grade changes were followed.
“There is no evidence academic fraud occurred,” Jacobs said.
Chizik said Auburn never paid Newton, whose father attempted to solicit money during Mississippi State’s recruitment of his son. The NCAA eventually cleared the player and Auburn officials after a 13-month investigation.
As for the synthetic-marijuana report, Chizik said, “Let’s use a little common sense here. It’s a performance-debilitating drug. So if half of our football team is on it during our 2010 (season) national-championship run, how were we performing at a level that was the best football team in the country?”
• The NCAA announced it granted Central Florida’s appeal of a one-year postseason ban, clearing the way for the Knights to be eligible for a bowl berth in their inaugural season in the American Athletic Conference in 2013.
NCAA officials wrote the Infractions Appeals Committee “determined the football postseason ban is excessive such that it constitutes an abuse of discretion.”
UCF had argued the NCAA used “irrelevant factors” in conveying the ban.
• Virginia Tech tailback Michael Holmes, 19, is facing a felony malicious wounding charge after a weekend fight in Blacksburg and has been suspended from the program.
Police said the incident that led to Holmes’ arrest began as an altercation between two women.