Auburn Conducts Internal Investigation Concerning Selena Roberts Report

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A letter from Auburn athletic director Jay Jacobs to the Auburn family:

In response to an article published by earlier this month, we have reviewed the allegations of academic fraud made in the story. Even though many of the sources interviewed for the article criticized the reporter for misquoting or misrepresenting them as soon as the story appeared, the allegations were serious enough to prompt an internal review.

The attached document illustrates that there are numerous inaccuracies and misrepresentations in the story.

The most serious allegation is the claim that academic fraud occurred prior to the 2011 BCS National Championship game. Auburn Athletics and Auburn University Internal Auditing have completed independent reviews of the academic allegations. There is no evidence academic fraud occurred.

The article alleges improper grade changes took place to make nine student-athletes eligible for the 2011 BCS National Championship Game. That is false. In fact, six players were academically ineligible for the BCS National Championship game, and none of them made the trip to Arizona with the team.

The article also states that former football student-athlete Michael Dyer was academically ineligible prior to the BCS National Championship game. That is also false. Mr. Dyer was never in danger of academic ineligibility. In fact, he passed 15 hours during the fall of 2010 (nine more than required by the NCAA) and had a 2.8 GPA at the end of the fall semester. Mr. Dyer actually passed a combined 24 hours in the summer and fall semesters.

The article also implies that an academic counselor who works with the athletic department kept Mike McNeil eligible by changing his grade in a course from an F to a C. The article fails to point out that the professor changed Mr. McNeil’s grade after documented reasons were provided, including excused absences from classes for medical reasons. The independent review by Auburn University Internal Auditing showed that all institutional policies regarding grade changes for excused absences were followed.

It is also worth noting that while Mr. McNeil also alleges that former Auburn assistant coach Will Muschamp paid him during the 2007 season, Coach Muschamp immediately and publicly denied the allegations, as was widely reported throughout the media.

The article also claims that Mr. McNeil recalls receiving $500 cash to entertain a former prospect, Dre Kirkpatrick, while Mr. Kirkpatrick was on an official visit to Auburn. Mr. Kirkpatrick never took an official visit to Auburn. Mr. Kirkpatrick has since publicly stated that no one at Auburn gave him money or spent money on him during unofficial visits to our campus.

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.

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.

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.

Auburn will bounce back

There is no question that this has been a tough year for Auburn Athletics. We all expect better, and we know we have to win. As disappointing as this year has been, rest assured we will bounce back. We always have.

As part of our efforts to get better, we are also committed to being as transparent as possible with our stakeholders. That is why I wanted to let you know that a top-notch team of current and former coaches, athletics administrators, student-athletes and business executives will be coming in to give us a comprehensive evaluation. We welcome this review.

The review committee, which was selected by President Gogue, is comprised of individuals whose expertise and experience puts them in position to independently and objectively evaluate the Athletics Department—while also offering insight into our strengths as well as the areas in which we must improve.

It will be a top-to-bottom review, but Dr. Gogue has asked the committee to focus on five specific areas. They include the following: academic and support services for our student-athletes; the department’s financial management and health; the gameday experience for fans and customer service; all aspects of competition, including sportsmanship, compliance and winning; and the department’s management structure, including the effectiveness of its leadership.

This review of athletics is part of Dr. Gogue’s regular evaluation process that takes place annually for all senior administrators and campus units.

An A-Day to remember, a title to celebrate

In closing, I want to thank all 83,401 of you who came to Saturday’s A-Day game. I also want to thank the tens of thousands who came to the celebration at Toomer’s Corner. It was a day none of us will ever forget.

It is fitting that Saturday’s celebration ended up not being the last time to roll the historic oaks. Coach Greg Williams and the Auburn Equestrian team gave us one more good excuse to roll them again last night.

I know you join me in congratulating the Equestrian team on winning both the overall and Hunt Seat National Championships in Waco this weekend. The wins marked the program’s third overall National Championship and its third Hunt Seat title.

The trees might be dead, but the Auburn spirit is alive. And it’s stronger than ever.

God Bless and War Eagle!

Jay Jacobs
Director of Athletics

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Roopstigo Story: The Allegations and The Facts

Allegations Facts
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.

Courtesy AU Media Relations

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