Former Auburn Tigers safety Mike McNeil is blowing the whistle on his former college football team.
According to a report on Wednesday by Selena Roberts of Roopstigo.com, McNeil made multiple allegations against the football program’s integrity under Gene Chizik.
It's worth noting that McNeil is slated to go to trial on April 8 on charges of armed robbery, but his indictments against Auburn seem to carry some weight.
These claims—substantiated by former Auburn defensive lineman Mike Blanc and wide receiver Darvin Adams in Roberts' report— include instances of players’ grades being changed in order to remain eligible, money being offered to players who were considering the NFL draft in exchange for staying their senior year, various recruiting violations and more.
McNeil revealed that he personally had a grade changed almost immediately by speaking to someone within the athletic department. This was after negotiations failed with both the professor and another person in a position of power above the instructor.
Blanc corroborated on this issue by noting that prior to the BCS championship game, up to nine players were supposed to miss time for academic ineligibility, but the team found a way to get them on the field.
UPDATE: Thursday, Apr. 4 at 9:10 a.m. ET
Blanc has denied his involvement in this story, according to Mike Szvetitz of the Opelika-Auburn News.
The former D-lineman said: “Maybe they got those quotes from other players and they used me as a source. But those quotes in there by me are not true.”
Roberts claims otherwise, stating: “Mike Blanc displayed a lot of courage and conviction when we spoke. I'm sure he felt the backlash from the Auburn community today for being that brave.”
---End of update---
In terms of payments, McNeil recalled when current Florida Gators head coach and former Auburn defensive coordinator Will Muschamp offered him cash after a rough day of practice in 2007:
I had no clue what it was about because I’d never directly asked him (Muschamp) for anything. 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.’
Adams asserted that he was heavily pressured to come back for his senior season and offered several thousand dollars to do so. The wide receiver declined and made himself eligible and a scout claimed that the Tigers' coaching staff afterwards gave negative reports of the NFL prospect. He currently plays for the Toronto Argonauts of the Canadian Football League.
McNeil also remembers a time when he was given $500 by the coaching staff to show current Cincinnati Bengal and former Alabama star Dre Kirkpatrick a good time during his recruiting visit.
Will Auburn be punished for these accusations?
Auburn, which won the 2010 national championship under Chizik, seemed to stray far from any semblance of institutional control. While the university dismissed the former coach in 2012, these accusations may come back to harm the Tigers.
Should these reports of malfeasance prove to be true, heavy NCAA sanctions and punishments could be looming on the horizon. It’s definitely a story that Auburn supporters and college football fans everywhere will continue to follow as it develops.