If you’re an Auburn fan and think that things couldn’t get worse than they were after a winless SEC season and the firing of your head coach – plus a sea of off-season troubles, then think again.

Selena Roberts, a reporter who has written for Sports Illustrated, brought out a report today that stunned not only this writer, will stun a lot of SEC fans.

In the report – which is essentially an interview with former safety Mike McNeil – Auburn changed grades, paid players to host recruits, saw more than 40 players test positive for “recreational drugs” after their National Championship win in 2011, and offered money to players to keep playing at the school.

Here are some stunning revelations from the report, and we’ll let them speak for themselves:

1) Player payments: “Receiver Darvin Adams, a star player with NFL dreams and a family to support, wrestled with whether to turn pro after the championship season. He discussed his plans with teammates and told them how much pressure he was under by Auburn coaches to stay. McNeil and Blanc say Auburn coaches offered Adams several thousand dollars to stay for his senior year. “It was sugar-coated in a way,” says Adams, who confirmed he was offered financial incentives, but declined to detail the exact amount. “It was like, we’ll do this and that for you. But I’d rather do things the right way. I am happy I didn’t say yes to that stuff. That’s what I’d tell kids.” Adams turned pro but went undrafted, a result, one NFL scout says, was due to negative reports on him from Auburn coaches. Adams plays for the Toronto Argonauts of the Canadian Football League and refuses to be bitter. “I play the cards I’m dealt,” he says. Other players tell stories of in-season cash payments to players. “Coaches would say, ‘Don’t tell anyone where you got it from,’’’ says Blanc. McNeil recalls having a difficult day at practice in 2007 and then-defensive coordinator, Will Muschamp, calling him into his office. “I had no clue what it was about because I’d never directly asked him for anything,” says McNeil. “He slid about $400 over to me. He went into a drawer and gave me money and said, ‘Is this enough? Is this good?’ And I said, ‘Yeah, I’m good.’” Muschamp, now the head football coach at the University of Florida, denied the payment through a spokesperson.

McNeil says he was also paid $500 to be Dre’ Kirkpatrick’s tour guide. It didn’t work so well – Kirkpatrick went to play – and star – for hated rival Alabama.

2) Drug use: A trailer home on Wire Road was a hotspot for drug activity, players say. “From everything I know, drugs flowed freely from there, says [former Auburn player Mike] Blanc. “It wasn’t a secret that, if someone wanted something, they could get it there.”  The report added: “As players recall, more than 40 players tested positive for recreational drugs after the national championship.

3) Grade tampering: Players’ grades were changed to ensure players did not miss games – especially the National Championship Game against Oregon – which would turn out to be one of the best games of the season. Here’s what the report says: “Three players say that before the 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……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.

What worries this blog is that this sort of thing doesn’t just happen at the University of Auburn. We’ve heard stories from contacts all over the SEC of players getting beneficial treatment (such is the nature of being gods of campus). Our question: What is the NCAA – and in particular the Mike Slive and SEC – going to do about this sort of issue? It’s not good for Auburn, it’s not good for the NCAA, and it’s certainly not good for the reputation of the Southeastern Conference.

Blanc was quick to deny the story. He told Mike Svzetitz, sports editor of the Opelika-Auburn News: “None of that stuff that she said I said is true. None of it is true.”

Bates also denied the story to Weigh In Sports’ Brian Tarvin.

Auburn has not commented on the story.

You can read the whole of Roberts’ report here.

 

 

 

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