Commentary: Will the NCAA decide it's time to make a move at Auburn?

kprice@ledger-enquirer.comApril 3, 2011 

So what are to make of the last few days in Auburn?

Four former Auburn football players appeared on HBO’s Real Sports earlier this week to say they had been paid by boosters either during the recruiting process or after games. One player went as far as to say he was paid by an assistant coach to stay at Auburn when he was thinking about transferring.

Then as word leaked out as to who would be included in the TV show, other former Auburn players came out to say the four were lying. The players not on the show went on to say they had not been paid.

So what are we to believe?

There are plenty of reasons to wonder about what the four former players said.

One player, Chaz Ramsey, filed suit against the school and a trainer after injuring his back. He claimed he was mistreated during the rehabilitation process. That suit was dismissed earlier this year.

He was asked if he was mad the school. He said during the show, ‘’I’m not out to get anybody.’’

Another player, Raven Gray, left after being injured before he could play a game.

Stanley McClover reportedly struck a deal for HBO to film a segment on his charity.

Reddick said he was going to transfer before being given a sum of money to stay at the school by an assistant coach.

The easy thing to say is that all four were either disgruntled or had some reason to make up those stories.

And what about all the players such as Heath Evans, Lee Ziemba, etc., who have said those four were lying.

Ziemba told the Ledger-Enquirer’s Andy Bitter: “I started 52 games, walked out the same locker room doors after games, were recruited by the same men, met the same people a lot together and I never saw a dime.’’

Are they telling the truth or are they lying because they don’t want to get their school in trouble?

It is unlikely we will ever know the answer to any of those questions.

All of the transactions the four players described on Real Sports were done in cash, either large sums of money in bags or smaller sums transferred to the players in ‘‘money handshakes,’’ so it is highly unlikely there is any sort of paper trail, i.e., proof.

But that might not matter.

Certainly, Auburn’s reputation does not help it. Going all the way back to 1956 -- Auburn won its first national championship the following season -- the NCAA has found Auburn committed major rules violations seven times, third most of any NCAA Division I program.

No doubt, the NCAA will be knocking on Auburn’s door very soon, if it is not there already. It will also want to talk to the four players from the Real Sports piece. There was already a published report Friday that the NCAA had contacted Ramsey.

Coming on the heels of the Cam Newton fiasco -- when many people criticized the NCAA for not punishing Cam for the actions of his father, the NCAA may decide that it needs to do something to the Tigers.

Kevin Price, 706-320-4493, kprice@ledger-enquirer.com

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