Chizik: HBO report ‘pure garbage’

Chizik "Allegations are one sided and garbage"

Gene Chizik spent nearly 10 minutes after Wednesday’s practice addressing claims by four Auburn former players on an episode of HBO’s “Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel” that they received payment while playing for the Tigers.

Chizik, who was defensive coordinator at Auburn from 2002-04 — when some of the alleged interactions took place — said he “had no knowledge of any of that stuff.”

“Moving forward to being head coach here now at Auburn that’s not what we do here, that’s not who we are, that’s not what we stand for,” Chizik said. “That’s not how this program is going to be run. I feel very strongly about that.”

Former Auburn players Raven Gray, Stanley McClover, Chaz Ramsey and Troy Reddick were interviewed for the HBO special that aired Wednesday night at 9.

Chizik said HBO did not try and contact him for the special.

“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.”

Auburn Athletic Director Jay Jacobs released a statement Wednesday saying the university is aware of claims made against it in the HBO special and, “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.”

“We have engaged outside counsel to investigate this matter and will spare no resources to find the truth,” Jacobs’ statement read.

The SEC also released a statement Wednesday confirming officials from Auburn, LSU — another program named by McClover in the special — and the SEC “have communicated with the NCAA Enforcement Staff.  The involved institutions and the NCAA staff will pursue the allegations in a timely manner.”

Wednesday, a number of former players refuted the claims made by Gray, McClover, Ramsey and Reddick in the HBO special.

Multiple reports have quoted former McClover teammates such as Ronnie Brown, Jeris McIntyre, Bret Eddins, Junior Rosegreen, Quentin Groves, Joe Cope, Jeremy Ingle and Cole Bennett saying they never received payment at Auburn and doubt McClover’s words.

“There’s just a lot of guys that have dealt with things as far as how their career went, and a lot of that is reflected in how they felt they got treated by Auburn,” T.J. Jackson, a former teammate of McClover and Reddick, told the Opelika-Auburn News on Tuesday night. “Not being ugly to those guys, but if you were going to pay some people, there were probably a lot of people (on those teams) that should have been paid before those guys.”

McClover played for the Tigers from 2003-05, earning first-team All-SEC honors in 2004 and declaring early for the NFL Draft, getting picked by the Carolina Panthers in the seventh round of the 2006 draft.

The Fort Lauderdale, Fla., native is a 26-year old father of a 3-year old daughter and founder of the non-profit organization Big Brothers United.

Reddick went undrafted out of Auburn. Multiple reports quoted sources inside the Auburn athletic department Wednesday saying that Reddick applied for a graduate assistant job with the Tigers last year, but didn’t get it, and asked the school for BCS Championship Game tickets, but was denied.

Gray was recruited out of junior college in 2008, got injured in the offseason and never played a game at Auburn.

Ramsey started 10 games in 2007 before losing 2008 to a back injury and leaving the team after.

He filed suit against a former Auburn trainer and assistant coach for mismanaging his injury rehab in the summer of 2009. The suit was dismissed in February.

Former offensive tackle Lee Ziemba started 52 games for the Tigers from 2007-10, overlapping the careers of Ramsey and Gray.

“These guys obviously have some kind of beef with Auburn,” Ziemba told the Opelika-Auburn News on Wednesday. “I played here four years, was recruited by the same folks they were and never saw a dime out of any of it.

“I played in the same games, walked out of the same locker room and never got one of those ‘money handshakes.’ If any of that had been going on, I would have known about it.”

“Real Sports” reporter Andrea Kremer said on Wednesday morning’s edition of “The Dan Patrick Show” that former Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville — who was head coach at the time the alleged payments took place — “did not comment on this. We reached out on a number of different coaches, and they declined to speak to us.”

Attempts by the Opelika-Auburn News to contact Tuberville on Wednesday were unsuccessful.

During the special, Reddick accuses an unnamed Tiger coach of handing him a series of $500 payments in envelopes during his junior and senior years.

The Opelika-Auburn News’ attempts to reach assistant coaches from that time were also unsuccessful.

Auburn University president Dr. Jay Gogue backed up Jacobs’ assertion that the allegations in the special will be investigated “thoroughly and completely.”

“As a university president, there are several things you want from the athletics department,” Gogue said in the statement. “One of them is playing by the rules, and Jay Jacobs and the athletics department are committed to that priority.”

Cornerback Walt McFadden, who played at Auburn from 2006-09, tweeted: “I didn’t receive not a penny from any booster club of any kind while I attended Auburn University. This show is an opportunity for guys to get the attention that they feel didn’t receive from Auburn. We all had a chance and some took a different route by trying to bring down Auburn while we’re high, is a coward move and very disrespectful.

“Auburn has showed nothing but love. Any of allegations are not true. I believe in Auburn and Love it — War Eagle.”

dmorrison@oanow.com | 737-2568

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