Report: Auburn paid players, altered grades

Auburn’s football program changed players’ grades to secure eligibility, offered money to potential NFL draft picks to return for their senior seasons and violated NCAA recruiting rules under former coach Gene Chizik, according to a report by former New York Times and Sports Illustrated writer Selena Roberts.

The report appears on Roberts’ website, According to three former Auburn players, as many as nine players’ grades were changed before Auburn’s win in the 2011 BCS national championship game.

“We thought we would be without (running back) Mike Dyer because he said he was one of them, but Auburn found a way to make those dudes eligible,” former Auburn defensive lineman Mike Blanc told Roberts.

According to the report, Auburn coaches offered money to players for any number of reasons, including as a means to convince players to bypass the NFL draft.

Darvin Adams, a former Auburn wide receiver, told Roberts that coaches offered him cash to keep him at the school.

Blanc and Mike McNeil, another former Auburn player, told Roberts the money amounts reached “several thousand dollars.”

“Coaches would say, ‘Don’t tell anyone where you got it from,’ ” Blanc told Roberts.

McNeil told Roberts he had a meeting with then-defensive coordinator Will Muschamp, now Florida’s coach, in 2007.

“I had no clue what it was about because I’d never directly asked him for anything,” McNell 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.’ ”

Former Auburn defensive back Nieko Thorpe also told Roberts the coaching staff far exceeded its NCAA-allotted per diem for entertaining recruits. Thorpe said coaches gave players $500 to entertain current Cincinnati Bengals cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick, even though the NCAA reportedly limits expenses to less than $50 per day.

All of these allegations happened under Chizik, who guided Auburn to its first national title since 1957 after the 2010 season.

Chizik was fired after a 3-9 season last year.

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About Cliff Freeman

Cliff has been covering College Football since 2003 and has traveled to nearly every championship game in the past decade. He has extensive experience covering the Southeastern Conference as well as the other BCS conferences. His wealth of knowledge and ability to quickly report on the top stories in the sport make him a valuable asset to the AST Team.