Report: Auburn team that beat Ducks paid players, fixed grades

Report: Auburn team that beat Ducks paid players, fixed grades

Credit: Getty Images

GLENDALE, AZ - JANUARY 10: Head coach Gene Chizik of the Auburn Tigers reacts on the sideline against the Oregon Ducks during the Tostitos BCS National Championship Game at University of Phoenix Stadium on January 10, 2011 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

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by KGW Staff

Bio | Email | Follow: @KGWNews

kgw.com

Posted on April 4, 2013 at 8:08 AM

Updated Thursday, Apr 4 at 9:40 AM

A story published Wednesday by online media company roopstigo accuses Auburn University of fixing grades and paying players on the team that beat the University of Oregon for the 2010 BCS national championship.

The story by Selena Roberts said Auburn football created an atmosphere of arrogance that resulted in the school covering up violations during the tenure of former coach Gene Chizik.

Roberts reported that as many as nine players might have been academically ineligible for the bowl game and cited one specific instance of a grade being changed from an F to C for a star player.

That player, Mike McNeil, is about to go on trial for robbery. Two other players cited by Roberts, Mike Blanc and Neiko Thorpe, have since said they were taken out of context and Roberts' story had inaccuracies.

Roberts told an Alabama sports writer that those two may have been overwhelmed by the magnitude of what they originally told her, especially in light of the power of the extended Auburn football empire.

Other players quoted in the story have also since denied what they were quoted saying.

Another player, receiver Darvin Adams, said he was offered cash not to turn pro. McNeil and Blanc said in the story that Adams was offered thousands.

Adams refused the money and went undrafted, in part, he told Roberts, because Auburn coaches spoke poorly of him to NFL scouts. He now plays in the Canadian Football League.

McNeil also says in the story that he received cash payments during the season, in one instance $400 after a difficult practice. He said he was provided $500 to entertain a recruit, well beyond the $50 allowed under NCAA rules.

The story also alleges that Auburn coaches singled out black players for drug tests more often than white players and enforced strict rules on hair and tattoos, mostly affecting black players.

According to the article, the school and police worked with the school to protect it from liability and bad publicity if athletes found themselves on the wrong side of the law.

Roberts once wrote for the New York Times and Sports Illustrated before becoming founder and CEO of roopstigo.

Her SI cover story on Lance Armstrong in 2009 was the first in-depth look at his doping use that ultimately led to his downfall. She also broke a story, then wrote a book, about steroid use by Alex Rodriguez of the New York Yankees.

She also has been called out by peers for columns she wrote while at the Times that harshly criticized Duke University, its lacrosse team, coach and the local DA after a reported rape. The woman who brought the accusations later recanted her story and charges against players were dropped.

The NCAA has not made a comment about the roopstigo story.

Oregon has its own issues with the NCAA, an investigation into the school's relationship with recruiter Willie Lyles and his Houston-based Complete Scouting Service.

More: UO gets official notice of NCAA investigation

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