AUBURN, AL (WSFA) - Gene Chizik may not be the head coach of the Auburn Tigers anymore, but he's firing back regarding a scathing report alleging widespread NCAA violations during his tenure with the team.
Chizik released the following statement through his agent/attorney, Balch Sports.
"During my tenure at Auburn, the NCAA conducted a multi-year investigation into the Auburn football program that they called "fair and thorough." The NCAA focused intently on widespread accusations about Auburn players being paid and other alleged recruiting violations. The NCAA rejected "rampant public speculation online and in the media." Unfortunately, the recent story published by Selena Roberts is more of the same. It once again portrays Auburn University, current and former coaches, professors, fans, supporters and community officials in a false light.
Unfortunately, Ms. Roberts' story is long on accusation and inference, but short on facts and logic. It is noteworthy that the story comes just days before a player mentioned most prominently in the article is set to go to trial for felony armed robbery. The statements are very generalized accusations devoid of substance. During my time as Auburn's head coach, I never authorized, instructed or directed anyone to change any player's grade or provide any type of illegal payment to any student-athlete. Likewise, I am not aware of any alleged grade change or illegal payment by any member of my coaching staff, support staff or anyone else.
As for logic, the notion that the conduct inferred by Ms. Roberts was occurring under the NCAA's nose, at the very same time the NCAA is conducting its thorough investigation, lacks merit. Further, the notion that there was ever an attempt to sabotage any Auburn student-athlete's attempt to play professional football is outrageous. Auburn's success in transitioning student-athletes to the NFL benefits both the student-athlete and the Auburn program.
I remain part of the Auburn family and take these attacks on myself, the University and community seriously. During my time at Auburn, the administrators, professors and academic staff were of the highest integrity. Additionally, the inference that there was academic support staff that worked together with professors to change grades is absurd. As an Auburn resident, I take great pride in the quality and integrity of our police department. They enforce the law equally and fairly and my dealings with police Chief Tommy Dawson and his staff have been nothing short of excellent. He has handled many high profile cases with the upmost integrity and professionalism. To imply anything otherwise is simply wrong.
If there is a sad truth here, it is that there are no repercussions for bloggers who blast our widespread, venomous allegations and inferences is such an irresponsible manner. To make bold and outrageous conclusions on such thin support is a travesty.
During my tenure as Auburn's head coach, we kept the well-being of our student-athletes at the forefront of every decision. We ran our program with the highest level of integrity and accountability. Period. I make absolutely no apologies for that. I stand firm in my statements, my support of Auburn University, its student-athletes (present and former), faculty, staff and community officials. As I stated during the NCAA investigation, I am comforted knowing that the truth always prevails."
Roberts released the report on her website, www.roopstigo.com. The article centers around former Auburn safety Mike McNeil who is set to stand trial for armed robbery next week.
In the report, McNeil claims against the university paid players, changed grades to make players eligible for the 2010 National Championship and allotted more money than the NCAA allows for recruiting visits.
One incident says former Auburn defensive coordinator Will Muschamp gave McNeil $400 cash after practice.
Another allegation claims former wide receiver Darvin Adams was allegedly offered a cash payment to return to school for his senior season.
Other former Auburn players interviewed for the article included Mike Blanc, Antoine Carter, Darren Bates and Neiko Thorpe.
An Auburn University spokesperson says there will be no comment on the story, but Thursday afternoon, Athletics Director Jay Jacobs issued a statement saying, "We have no reason to believe these allegations are either accurate or credible. However, as a matter of procedure, we are reviewing them carefully.