Chris Stephens

Putting The Auburn Scandal In Context

Created on Apr. 11, 2013 8:00 PM EST

Surprise, surprise.

There's another scandal in college football and it involves the possible paying of players, changing of grades and all-around cheating.

However, the "new" scandal that is rocking the college football world involving the Auburn Tigers has a lot of issues on both sides that need to be addressed.

From why certain players are all of a sudden coming out with this information to the botched investigation by the NCAA into the University of Miami, we need to look at all sides.

The Backstory

Auburn's institutional integrity was called into question in a recent story by Selena Roberts on her website

The story interviews multiple Auburn football players, including Mike McNeil, Darvin Adams and Mike Blanc. The multiple accusations are troubling if all are found to be true.

The first accusation says that multiple players from Auburn's BCS national championship team were deemed academically ineligible for the title game. According to Blanc:

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.

McNeil said his grade was changed as well:

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.

So, we have that. But, there's more.

The second accusation claims all three players received payment for play. Whether it was payment to turn down the NFL and come back to school (Adams), or getting paid directly by coaches after a difficult day at practice (McNeil).

The third accusation claims improper benefits involving money spent on recruiting visits for star prospects, more money than allowed by the NCAA (which was $50), used to show those recruits a good time.

Why Now?

So, why is this story all of a sudden becoming a part of national headlines? After all, the Cam Newton "scandal" became a non-issue ... at least according to the NCAA (more on that later).

For those who don't know, McNeil was one of the four Auburn players arrested for armed robbery. Prior to pleading guilty, McNeal came out with his story.

The biggest question is, why was he coming out with the story just before he was to go to jail?

Could it have been because Auburn left him and the other three players out to dry when it came to their arrests?

There's a lot more to the story, which Roberts details. But the question has to be why did  McNeil decide to go public? From the outside, it looks like there are some alterior motives.

Was it his revenge on Auburn for separating itself from the four players? Was he angry the school didn't back them up when they were presumably innocent until proven guilty?

Those questions may never be answered.

Will The Allegations Matter?

The entire article is a "he-said, she-said" argument. With no proof (video evidence, voice recordings, etc.), it comes down to the word of the players against the word of the coaches.

Making it even more troubling is the recent botched investigation of the University of Miami by the NCAA. That also brings into question the investigation into Cam Newton in the latter portion of the 2010 season.

So, even if all of the allegations are true, can we really trust the NCAA to conduct an investigation with integrity?

They showed they weren't able to do it correctly when it seemed it was pretty cut-and-dry with Miami. Could they really do it correctly with Auburn when the information isn't so cut-and-dry?

On that note, does this also call into question the investigation involving Newton? Did the NCAA really do its due dilegence before clearing Newton and Auburn of any wrongdoing?

Chalk this up to another incident where we'll never know the full truth.

Where To Go From Here

With the failures of the NCAA, along with the "he-said, she-said" arguments, I predict nothing will come of this.

Roberts has defended her story, even though some of the players she interviewed say they were misquoted.

Wrongdoings may or may not have happened. In the end, Gene Chizik has been fired and the NCAA won't vacate the title won by Auburn due to its previous investigation.

Commiting time, resources and money to something on par with chasing a ghost would be a huge waste.

Nothing will ever come of it, so why waste the energy?

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