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Ex-Tiger Mike McNeil accuses Auburn of changing grades, paying players

Mike McNeil AuburnMike McNeil, a safety on Auburn’s 2010 national championship football team, has accused the program of academic fraud, paying players, violating recruiting rules, and targeting players based on looks for random drug testing, according to a report by Roopstigo.

McNeil is one of four former Auburn football players who were kicked off the team after being charged with armed robbery in 2011. One of the players, Antonio Goodwin, was found guilty last year and sentenced to 15 years in prison. McNeil refuses to take a plea deal because he insists his innocence. He is scheduled to go to trial on April 8.

In an excellent investigative report by Selena Roberts, formerly of Sports Illustrated and The New York Times, McNeil levies numerous accusations against Auburn’s football program. He says the program and school disassociated themselves from the players after the charges. His mother also accuses Auburn and the local police of trying to keep the armed robbery story from the media.

According to Roberts, academic fraud in the form of grade changing was common at Auburn. Three Auburn players say they were told as many as nine of their teammates would be ineligible to play in the BCS National Championship Game on Jan. 10, 2011, but somehow all of them were cleared. McNeil says he had a grade changed from an F to a C after going through the athletic department (he had no luck having the grade changed when he approached the teacher and the teacher’s boss).

Roberts documents instances of Auburn paying players. Former wide receiver Darvin Adams, who led the team with 52 catches and 963 yards during the 2010 season, says coaches offered to pay him thousands to keep him from entering the NFL Draft. He left school and went undrafted. A scout reportedly says Auburn coaches gave negative reports to NFL teams about him.

McNeil says former Auburn defensive coordinator Will Muschamp, now the head coach at Florida, gave him $400 in cash after a practice. McNeil indicates there was no real motivation for the payment. He also says coaches gave players much more than the $50 maximum allowable daily amount for students hosting recruits for visits. He says the amount would be as much as $500 when they were hosting a top recruit, such as Dre Kilpatrick, who eventually signed with Alabama and became a first-round pick in the NFL Draft.

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