In the wake of the poisoning of the Toomer's oaks and in light of the seemingly endless campaign to damage the reputation and integrity of Auburn University and its football program in particular, a group of Auburn supporters has formed the Never To Yield Foundation (http://www.facebook.com/NeverToYield).
According to the Facebook page for the organization "The Never To Yield Foundation is established to promote the positive image of Auburn University, its students, its alumni and its fans. The Foundation celebrates the Auburn spirit and is dedicated to providing a place for the Auburn family to connect and share our collective and individual successes. Our secondary mission is to help combat the negativity that is directed at Auburn by its detractors, by the media and by anyone else who seeks to do our family harm."
"Our primary goal is to accentuate the positive," Brian Kleisley, a Foundation organizer noted. "But for our organization to focus on that, we first must try to quell some of the negative.
"Since early October, when it became evident that the Auburn football team was on the brink of what could be a magical season there has been what appears to many Auburn fans to be an orchestrated campaign to tear us down," Kleisley said.
"Beginning with allegations about the eligibility of Cam Newton a relentless barrage of negativity has been directed at Auburn, primarily via the reports of a select few online bloggers. These pseudo reporters have laid siege to Auburn, harassed faculty and staff, stalked current and former players and coaches and essentially excavated the town searching for something with which to bludgeon Auburn. Unable to turn up the proverbial smoking gun, some have resorted to stretching facts or outright fabrication to continue their drumbeat."
"Add that unrelenting attack to a toxic mix of sports talk invective and fan frustration borne out of watching their primary rival capture every award and title that had been conceded in the preseason to fans of the Alabama Crimson Tide and the resulting blend spit out a bitter and hateful person who believes killing two 130-year old oak trees is an appropriate salve for his psychological wounds."
"We've watched in dismay as the state media began dismissively insisting that Auburn fans "get over it" mere days after the poisoning was confirmed," Kleisley continued. "The reaction of many fans and many in the media has disappointed us. Out of our frustration grew a desire to respond positively to the negatives. The Never To Yield Foundation is designed to give Auburn fans a voice."
Earlier this week, Foundation members reached out to management at the Florence Times Daily, a newspaper in northwest Alabama. One of the reporters for the newspaper, Lisa Singleton-Rickman, posted comments on her Facebook page in regard to the poisoning of the Toomer's oaks that were insensitive and insulting to Auburn and its traditions. In addition, the online version of the paper contained an Alabama blog but had no corresponding section for Auburn fans.
"We are appreciative of the effort Scott Morris, executive editor of the paper, took in response to our discussions," Kleisley said. "He was gracious and explained their situation in regard to an Auburn blog. We are happy to report that mere hours after our discussion the Times Daily's online edition offered a link to Auburn news."
No resolution in regard to the comments from the reporter was announced.
"We don't anticipate nor did we intend for that to be a public issue," Kleisley noted. "Our primary goal was to make sure that the reporter is aware that those kind of comments are inappropriate in any setting. We are confident that the Times Daily will handle any related issues internally according to company policy."