If you’re one of those people that closes your eyes to harsh realities, or if you’re an Auburn fan, you won’t want to hear any of this. If you’re a normal college football fan, you probably understand that recruiting violations and some form of “pay for play” are the norm in high-profile college athletics. Not much however matches the scale to which things have gone on at Auburn.
I was first exposed to the corruption going on at that school — or more specifically the corruption involving booster and board of trustee member Bobby Lowder in a Bragging Rights: A Season Inside the SEC, College Football’s Toughest Conferencebook by Richard Ernsberger called Bragging Rights. In short, Lowder was the CEO of Colonial BancGroup, a huge bank in Alabama which recently failed. He used his power at the bank to bribe members on Auburn’s board of trustees through interest free loans, and he is essentially the team’s athletic director and responsible for their hires.
The incredible research and investigation done by blueTunaTiger at the LSU site Tiger Droppings points out that over the past 10 years, about five people have served as members of the Auburn Board of Trustees as well as Colonial BancGroup’s Board of Directors. You know what that means? The people controlling Auburn’s booster funds also controlled one of the state’s most powerful banks, and vice versa.
So how has money been funneled to players recently? Well one way has been through the Fine-Geddie lobbying group, which has been paid through Auburn’s booster fund Tigers Unlimited Foundation (also prominently noted at Sports by Brooks). Another way suggested by Tiger Droppings has been donating to the Alabama Children’s First Foundation. Money from that fund may have been used in recruiting. Now, as for some shadier ways, check out this creativity.
From TD: “Such things include guaranteed winning slot machines for AU players at Milt’s (Colonial Board member, AU Booster) Casino, unmarked ATM cards issued to AU players from Colonial Bank (Bobby Lowder-AU Board Member and Booster; Pat Dye-Colonial Board member, AU employee and Booster), forgiven loans to families, friends, donors, etc.”
Now what makes me feel so certain a good amount of this information is accurate? The FBI’s presence in the case. Why would the FBI be involved in the investigation of a college football player? As we learned on Wednesday from TMZ, the FBI was asking about Milton McGregor’s involvement in the Cam Newton case. McGregor is an Auburn booster who ran a greyhound racing track called VictoryLand and he was recently arrested along with 10 others in a political bribery scheme.
McGregor was trying to pay off politicians to vote in favor of pro-gambling legislation. The FBI had wire tapped McGregor and many others regarding this case, and that’s how they came across all the information about Auburn’s pay for play schemes, including Cam Newton. McGregor’s attorney denied his client had any involvement with the Newtons, but we’ll wait until we hear what the FBI has to say.
That’s not all. A post on Tide Sports says McGregor made a payment of $250,000 to Cam Newton’s uncle through a PAC, and then the uncle funneled the money back to Cam’s father. Don’t believe this stuff? The FBI has made arrests and has been investigating this case for nearly a year. I’d say that means they have some pretty darn concrete evidence. My trust runs with the Feds, where does yours?
Thanks to my man Dadyan for the assistance.Google+