Gene Chizik: HBO report on Auburn 'pathetic' and 'pure garbage'; Network says Auburn refused chance to appear

Auburn's Stanley McClover, left, and Marquis Gunn celebrate a 34-10 victory over Tennessee on Oct. 2, 2004 at Neyland Stadium. McClover was one of four Auburn players to appear on HBO's Real Sports and allege a wide range of improprieties at their time at Auburn.

Photo by News Sentinel

Auburn's Stanley McClover, left, and Marquis Gunn celebrate a 34-10 victory over Tennessee on Oct. 2, 2004 at Neyland Stadium. McClover was one of four Auburn players to appear on HBO's Real Sports and allege a wide range of improprieties at their time at Auburn.

MONTGOMERY, Ala. — HBO says Auburn athletic officials chose not to comment for a report in which four former players said they were paid thousands of dollars during their recruitment or college careers.

HBO spokesman Ray Stallone released a statement Thursday, a day after Tigers coach Gene Chizik said he wasn’t contacted ahead of Wednesday night’s episode of “Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel” and called the report “pure garbage.”

Stallone said producers called the sports information department and “read to them in detail” allegations made by Stanley McClover, Chaz Ramsey, Troy Reddick and Raven Gray.

Three of the players said they received multiple payments from unidentified Auburn supporters. Gray was injured and never played for Auburn but said he received from $2,500 to $3,000 during his recruitment.

MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Auburn will investigate claims by four former football players, who told HBO’s “Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel” they received thousands of dollars while being recruited by or playing for the Tigers.

Stanley McClover, Troy Reddick, Chaz Ramsey and Raven Gray told HBO for an episode that aired Wednesday night that they received cash payments — in book bags, envelopes and even handshakes. Ramsey played at Auburn most recently, in the 2007 season.

Coach Gene Chizik dismissed the report as “pure garbage.”

Chizik, Auburn’s defensive coordinator from 2002-04 during the careers of McClover and Reddick, said Wednesday night he had no knowledge of the alleged payments, “and I don’t have my head in the sand.”

“What’s disturbing to me is that they interviewed other former Auburn football players who had exactly the opposite to say but somehow or another that failed to make the air, unless I missed that section,” Chizik said. “So I’ve got other former players that are calling me who are still playing and who are great players who had absolutely no knowledge of any of that stuff.

“So it saddens me that somebody is going to air a show with basically one side being known. I think that’s pathetic. And I think it’s pure garbage.”

He said HBO did not attempt to contact him for comment.

Athletic director Jay Jacobs said the university will investigate.

“While HBO confirmed to us they have no proof that any of these claims are true, we contacted both the NCAA and Southeastern Conference as soon as these allegations surfaced,” Jacobs said in a statement released Wednesday night. “We have engaged outside counsel to investigate this matter and will spare no resources to find the truth.”

University President Jay Gogue said he is confident Jacobs and his department “will investigate these allegations thoroughly and completely.”

Tommy Tuberville, Auburn’s coach during the recruitment of all four players, declined comment Wednesday. He is now the head coach at Texas Tech.

McClover said he “felt totally obligated” to play for the Tigers after getting money — he wasn’t sure how much — in a book bag.

“I almost passed out. I literally almost passed out, I couldn’t believe it was true,” the former defensive end told HBO. “I felt like I owed them.”

McClover said he later received $7,000 from an unidentified Auburn booster for a 1973 Chevrolet Impala and would get sacks of money, typically $300 or $400, after games. He said he got four bags totaling $4,000 after logging four sacks against rival Alabama in 2004, when he was a first-team All- Southeastern Conference player.

The Associated Press reviewed an advance copy of the hour-long program. Efforts to reach the four former players were unsuccessful.

Auburn has been dealing with NCAA issues and allegations for months now, and Chizik once again finds himself defending his program.

“That’s not what we stand for,” he said. “That’s not how this program is going to be run.”

Chizik added, “I know in my heart of hearts that we’re doing things the right way here at Auburn.”

The NCAA has been investigating the recruitment of Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton, who led the Tigers to the 2010 national title in his lone season. Newton’s father, Cecil, has admitted to soliciting money from Mississippi State during the recruiting process but said neither the player nor Auburn knew about his pay-for-play attempt.

Former Auburn defensive end Quentin Groves said he was never aware of McClover or any other teammates receiving improper payments.

“I just think it was totally and utterly ridiculous to go and say something like that about the school that gave you so much and then be mad because of selfish reasons,” Groves, who is now a Raiders linebacker, told AP in a phone interview Wednesday.

Groves said HBO contacted him and at least nine other former Auburn players for the report. He said he was never paid while at Auburn.

McClover’s 2004 teammate Junior Rosegreen, who also went to Dillard High School in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., said McClover bought the car with money from a Pell Grant and that it didn’t cost $7,000.

“That is bogus,” said Rosegreen, who called McClover “a damn storyteller.”

McClover, who spent two years at Auburn before turning pro after the 2005 season, also said he received cash during “money handshakes” with LSU and Michigan State and received sexual favors during a visit to Ohio State.

The Southeastern Conference said in a statement that representatives from Auburn, LSU and the SEC “have communicated with the NCAA Enforcement Staff” about the report.

“The involved institutions and the NCAA staff will pursue the allegations in a timely manner,” the league said.

In a statement, Michigan State spokesman John Lewandowski said, “Our compliance office was never alerted to this alleged handshake.”

Ohio State spokeswoman Shelly Poe said the school had no comment because the “the report is so far back and so many years ago and he’s just coming forward with it.” She said the incident described would have violated “our policies in the NCAA.”

Joe Alleva, LSU’s vice chancellor and athletic director, said the school would not comment but added that LSU “vigorously enforces NCAA and SEC rules and we work diligently to educate boosters on NCAA rules compliance.”

Lee Ziemba, a starter at left tackle on last season’s national championship team, tweeted Tuesday night that the story was a “couple former players lying to bring our past season down. Keep dreaming fellas.”

Reddick, an Auburn offensive lineman from 2002-05, said he initially turned down “a large sum of money” offered “by a representative of a local alumni.” He said Auburn later urged him to change his major so classes didn’t interfere with football and that when he was unhappy and threatened to leave, an unidentified coach asked him to come up to his office for “some mail.”

“I followed him up to his office and he gave me an envelope,” Reddick told HBO. He said it contained “about like $500” and that he received two or three more payments that season and six or seven as a senior.

Reddick also said he sold his Southeastern Conference championship watch right after a celebration following the 2004 season to help his sister avoid foreclosure on her home.

Gray, who missed the 2008 season with a knee injury and never played for the Tigers, said he received $2,500 to $3,000 from what he described as an Auburn representative when he was being recruited out of junior college. “This man’s giving me money, I’m going to be loyal to him and go to Auburn,” Gray said.

Ramsey said he was paid $5,000 to $6,000 while at Auburn.

“You walk out (after games) and all the fans are waiting for (players) to sign autographs and some random guy just walks up to you and shakes your hand and it’s a wad full of money,” said Ramsey, adding that he was given $300 or $400 a game.

Ramsey had a career-ending back injury following the 2007 season and later filed suit against Auburn’s then-head athletic trainer saying that an aggressive rehabilitation program worsened the problem. He lost the suit and is appealing, according to The Birmingham News.

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Comments » 86

winVol writes:

nothing new here ,everyone in the sec knows this and bama u are next

RoadTrip writes:

Chicken feed to what Cam made.

MWBTN writes:

And we fired our coach over a barbecue and chatting for 3 minutes in a hall way.

RoadTrip writes:

Correction: Lying over having a barbecue and not reporting the chat in the hallway as well as 90+ excessive recruit contacts, etc.

DutchOrangeVolsOrange writes:

Funny how the National media is getting up on this. They just can't stand it that the SEC has won 5 National championships. That is what most of this is all about. The SEC has won 5 straight National championships and their precious "The" Ohio State, Notre Dame, USC and others have been reduced to has beens. That is what most of this all about! Now that being said, whether there is something to this Auburn, LSU possibly paying cash, we shall see.

richvol writes:

I have said for years that Auburn is as dirty as they come. They have cheated since Shug Jordan was coaching...trying to keep up with Bama.

No way that this cow college in the middle of GOD forsaken Alabama can compete with the more glamorous schools without cheating their arses off. There is nothing to do there except roll dead trees.

PHAT_VOL writes:

WELL the plot thickens!! What next? I think we all know.
GO VOLS!!

ULTIMATEVOLUNTEER writes:

Bama players were given money at halftime of the 2010 Auburn game and had Bubba and Leroy getting a refund after the game.

TommyJack writes:

NO Aubie fan, but can't help wondering if this would be reported the same if Penn State, Ohio State, Mich, etc.???

tennrich1 writes:

Not surprise nor do I have any opinion one way or the other if all this is true....will say this....I work with a gentleman who's son played in the SEC and is now an assistant coach in the SEC....He told me some incredible stories of offers and other things during recruitment and playing years....said they never took them but still the offers were there....It would probable amaze us at what goes on...SOOOO...if your school hasnt been in trouble for violations....don't throw stones...your time is coming...Let the NCAA get on campus for anything and away they will come with something....almost a guarantee...not an excuse for the Vols though...just a true statement....

Witch_Doctors writes:

in response to TommyJack:

NO Aubie fan, but can't help wondering if this would be reported the same if Penn State, Ohio State, Mich, etc.???

Witch Doctor couldnt help notice how the Tressel story is getting white gloved with each passing day. Witch Doctor say the hypocrisy of the media and the Big Ten and Buckeye high is soo "them".
Bones never lie.

alvol writes:

This sounds bogus to me. These dudes are trying to make a little dough on HBO.

alvol writes:

in response to richvol:

I have said for years that Auburn is as dirty as they come. They have cheated since Shug Jordan was coaching...trying to keep up with Bama.

No way that this cow college in the middle of GOD forsaken Alabama can compete with the more glamorous schools without cheating their arses off. There is nothing to do there except roll dead trees.

You just made a statement that you know you can't back up.

DutchOrangeVolsOrange writes:

The National media is trying to push ole Sweater vest out of the way. I imagine that the winner of the LSU-Bama game will probably be headed to a 6th straight SEC title game. Again, that is driving the National media, particularly ESPN, crazy!

PHAT_VOL writes:

in response to MWBTN:

And we fired our coach over a barbecue and chatting for 3 minutes in a hall way.

Correction, HE LIED TO THE NCAA
GO VOLS !

Volalumnus writes:

in response to PHAT_VOL:

Correction, HE LIED TO THE NCAA
GO VOLS !

Fine....
However, you don't think any of these guys did that or the coaches that would be involved?
No point in answering, everyone already knows, its just a matter of what will come of it if anything.

RoadTrip writes:

in response to jrod:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

No troll here. You could not be more wrong about that one. Just like to see truth from fellow Vol fans.

thevoice writes:

in response to RoadTrip:

No troll here. You could not be more wrong about that one. Just like to see truth from fellow Vol fans.

Me says, "welcome to the board of hypocrisy."

newportvol writes:

wonder if the ncaa will vacate all auburn victories

cc623 writes:

in response to thevoice:

Me says, "welcome to the board of hypocrisy."

Nope that would be the UK or UCONN or even the OSwho boards...

John_10065 writes:

I was having a chat today at lunch with a vendor from the Buro. The NCAA came up when I glanced over and was seeing that it was Tressle commenting about his suspension on ESPN.

Almost immediately my vendor from Rutherford County brought up Newton. That was when I made the comment that the NCAA is all about lining their own pockets and that was why Newton got a free pass and that the OSU players were allowed to play in the bowl game when if it was "an also bowled team" they would have been suspended for THAT game right then, not next season.

I have nothing against these great athletes. To watch Newton running in the open field looks like the reincarnation of the Red Grange. Combined with his ability to throw the ball, he has the potential of being the greatest player to ever step on the field.

It isn't the athletes fault that the system of confining rules that the NCAA has set up has created a system that does two things...lines their pockets through broadcast rights and nearly forces coaches and boosters to slide fists full of cash under the table into the hands of players who are living in near poverty.

Anyone who watched this unfold last year in the context of what has happened year end and year out could only mutter under their breath "BS!"

The scariest thing in my mind that could possibly happen this next weekend is for VCU to upset Butler and play within a basket of winning the NCAA tourney or even win it. That would give the NCAA a reason to expand March Madness even further to make even more money for themselves. They almost did last year. But that is a different rant isn't it?

sectionOguy writes:

sounds like the Empire(code for Bama) is striking back so to speak.

FearThisElephant writes:

in response to richvol:

I have said for years that Auburn is as dirty as they come. They have cheated since Shug Jordan was coaching...trying to keep up with Bama.

No way that this cow college in the middle of GOD forsaken Alabama can compete with the more glamorous schools without cheating their arses off. There is nothing to do there except roll dead trees.

"You just made a statement that you know you can't back up". - alvol

I agree alvol but dang it does sound good! As the keyboard turns....

The1 writes:

All that is wrong with sports comes down to the fans (including envelope-wielding boosters). We place too much importance on the outcome of games.

volsmith writes:

I've always thought Auburn cheats.

born2ride writes:

How much did Auburn pay for Cam Newton?

VOLliven2it writes:

These guys and their moment in the limelight is all well and good but to this point it is all talk. Where is the proof? If they cannot prove it, they show their true colors and likely may face liability action. I suppose they were told that would not happen because of bad PR for Auburn. I'd be mad if this kind of stuff came up about UT with no proof or indication that it happened. In our world which worships information, once it's out there, it is very difficult to get back. Maybe Auburn is Scum U. Maybe not, but until it is proven beyond a doubt, I think it is really a travesty for HBO to put this on. They too may end up in court over it. Why would the other former players insist this type stuff did not happen if what these guys claim is true? I am no Auburn fan but this just smells bad. On the other side, if it pans out they should be hammered hard and fast with long lasting results. What will it be? We do not yet know. Meanwhile, Bammers smile and Aubbers sweat!

RatherBeDrivingaTitleist writes:

in response to BamaBeacher:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

You should be happy beacher. Being the 2nd best in Alabubba can,t be fun. Maybe now you can be state champs again. Bama cheats, always has always will.

Bigger_Al writes:

Seen this movie before. The next scene will be former Alabama players coming out and saying that they were paid for play at Alabama. Auburn boosters will smile while Bama sweats.

BigVolFaninSC writes:

Well....isn't THIS a kick in the pants? Are all FOUR of these guys lying? If so, what's the motivation for lying? Is it not possible that some players were paid without the others knowledge? I guess these questions will be answered over the next few weeks! As for sexual favors at THE Ohio State...that couldn't possibly happen anywhere!...Yeah Right!!

1volk-nowi-tall writes:

Why would anyone want proof when almost every post any of us place here concerns 95% or more conjecture or opinion. This is certainly the place to make unproven accusations, it is done here 24/7. I have always believed that Auburn sets in the perfect place to be able to hide much of what goes on there. Very little scrutiny in that part of Alabama. Have always thought that Auburn was a very good school academically though.

Colliervol writes:

in response to RoadTrip:

Correction: Lying over having a barbecue and not reporting the chat in the hallway as well as 90+ excessive recruit contacts, etc.

As opposed to Mike Montgomery's 390 excessive phone calls at California? Or Jim Calhoun's amnesia about his assistant cheating like a banshee to get Nate Miles? It's all relative I guess.

kantanuuv writes:

Auburn cheats, and wins a national title. UT cheats, and has losing seasons. UT can't even cheat right.

RaineyVol writes:

Nothing new... EVERY school does this!

Colliervol writes:

Leopards do not lose their spots. If this was going on with the Aubie boosters 5 years ago, do you think they stopped doing it overnight? Not likely. Deja vu all over again.

My advice to Auburn is the same as it will be for Kentucky if they win the Final Four. Don't hang that banner too high. That way you want have to exert yourselves when you have to take it down in a year or two. Hang it in the men's room at the stadium/arena. The smell coming from it will blend in nicely.

alvol writes:

in response to toddyboy:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

What's that got to do with cheating? I lived in a trailer in Tn and stepped in a lot of cow sh-t over the years. I don't live in a trailer now and your friend probably won't either after pharmacy school. Little off topic here, I think.

everydayisorange writes:

Just disgruntled (sp) players? Maybe UT wont have to play any games this coming season to win the S.E.C. Seems as though all those trolls laughing at us is coming back to them. Now if only urbie cheated too! I'm just kiding about all!

dvhill100 writes:

Well, it may be that Auburn's football team is the only one in the NCAA where they take a pay cut when they go pro. Having said that, there is a serious credibility issue with these guys. They knowingly broke the rules and compromised their integrity if they took money. They then have, years later, brought it out for pay (conjecture they didn't do the interviews for free). No loyalty to anyone but themselves. True or not, these guys truly are examples of the saying "Buddy is only half a word."

senatorgip#470888 writes:

Well when is everyone going to realize that the NCAA is the most corrupt Institution outside of Washington D.C. They allowed Auburn to continue playing Cam Newton when there was ton of evidence against his father. So what did the NCAA do ? They "expedited the investigation" which almost "never happens" and they find "no evidence" that Cam Newton had any involvement.

I will tell you why the NCAA acted in this regard. Because Auburn was undefeated and ranked # 2 in the nation and was preparing to play for the National Championship in the BCS game. Does anyone out there believe that the NCAA may have had a different "ruling" had Auburn not been undefeated and playing for the National Title ?

The same goes with Ohio State. The Suger Bowl "lobbied" the NCAA to allow the 5 players to participate in the bowl game, and begin their 5 game suspension at the beginning of next season. Does anyone out there believe that the NCAA would have had a different ruling had Ohio State not been playing in the Sugar Bowl ?

I for one have had enough of all this corruption and hyprocisy. The NCAA and College Presidents have "ruined" College Athletics and if we believe otherwise we are only living in a pipe dream.

Senatorgip

AsianView writes:

Who can say that boosters at UT and other major colleges have not been providing similar benefits as these alleged at Auburn?

The activities of boosters and agents are not easy to control by the schools' athletic departments, or by the NCAA.

As to these former Auburn players lying about these payments and beneifts, I don't understand how these players would benefit from disclosing these practices on HBO.

ponkey writes:

I'm SHOCKED.......can't believe things like that occur at Auburn....!!!

jimr07 writes:

in response to RoadTrip:

Chicken feed to what Cam made.

Can you prove it?

jimr07 writes:

in response to DutchOrangeVolsOrange:

Funny how the National media is getting up on this. They just can't stand it that the SEC has won 5 National championships. That is what most of this is all about. The SEC has won 5 straight National championships and their precious "The" Ohio State, Notre Dame, USC and others have been reduced to has beens. That is what most of this all about! Now that being said, whether there is something to this Auburn, LSU possibly paying cash, we shall see.

The National Media, if you can call HBO media, is out to destroy the SEC if they can. You know it and I know it. And you also have to consider the source.

jimr07 writes:

in response to TommyJack:

NO Aubie fan, but can't help wondering if this would be reported the same if Penn State, Ohio State, Mich, etc.???

TJ, you know that it would not. The national media is out to get the SEC. You have to consider the source of ths story. HBO cannot prove beyond a reasonalbe doubt any of the allegations.

jimr07 writes:

in response to VOLliven2it:

These guys and their moment in the limelight is all well and good but to this point it is all talk. Where is the proof? If they cannot prove it, they show their true colors and likely may face liability action. I suppose they were told that would not happen because of bad PR for Auburn. I'd be mad if this kind of stuff came up about UT with no proof or indication that it happened. In our world which worships information, once it's out there, it is very difficult to get back. Maybe Auburn is Scum U. Maybe not, but until it is proven beyond a doubt, I think it is really a travesty for HBO to put this on. They too may end up in court over it. Why would the other former players insist this type stuff did not happen if what these guys claim is true? I am no Auburn fan but this just smells bad. On the other side, if it pans out they should be hammered hard and fast with long lasting results. What will it be? We do not yet know. Meanwhile, Bammers smile and Aubbers sweat!

Facts are not nearly as serious as the allegations. These guys were paid bu HBO for the story.

bnakk#240693 writes:

I have consistently said that Ohio State SUCKS......now I've got some proof.

jimr07 writes:

in response to BigVolFaninSC:

Well....isn't THIS a kick in the pants? Are all FOUR of these guys lying? If so, what's the motivation for lying? Is it not possible that some players were paid without the others knowledge? I guess these questions will be answered over the next few weeks! As for sexual favors at THE Ohio State...that couldn't possibly happen anywhere!...Yeah Right!!

isn't THIS a kick in the pants? Are all FOUR of these guys lying? If so, what's the motivation for lying?
Money from HBO is the motivation. Alway consider the source.

CCLC writes:

HBO has said outside of their verbal interview they have NO EVIDENCE....meanwhile Auburn has engaged their attorneys to look into the matter. I smell a defamation law suit.

ajon1410 writes:

so did cam newton's father get paid by Auburn? I've never heard a definitive answer on this. I know he wasn't "responsible" because it was his immediate family member and not him, but still. . .

jimr07 writes:

Andrea Cramer who did the story said on Dan Patricks show yesterday that not one thing any of the players contend can be proved. So, in true journalistic fashion, ran the story anyway. good job HBO

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