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True or not, Auburn’s scandal part of systemic issues - The Red and Black : Sports

True or not, Auburn’s scandal part of systemic issues

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Posted: Tuesday, April 9, 2013 3:32 pm | Updated: 10:58 am, Mon May 13, 2013.

Auburn University: infamous for its two mascots, its two dead trees and now, the two separate reports alleging that Auburn’s athletic department is guilty of some degree of wrongdoing.

I’d wager the only people surprised by this news include three elderly Auburn fans, Aubie the Tiger and NCAA president Mark Emmert.

And that’s the huge problem in college athletics nowadays — the NCAA powers that be are running a morally bankrupt institution that can’t keep its own programs in line.

In Auburn’s case, there is reason to be suspicious of these allegations. Former defensive back Mike McNeill was served a minimum three-year sentence on Monday in the wake of his armed robbery, and was reportedly hung out to dry by team officials following his arrest. He would have more than a couple of reasons to accuse Auburn of paying its football players, interfering with police, etc.

This loosely ties into the other report — that several football players failed drug tests for smoking spice (synthetic marijuana) but were never punished. McNeill and others have claimed that spice fueled the attempted armed robbery that led to their arrests, but that is a stretch at best.

Whether the school reported these failures is one thing, but as far as we know Auburn’s drug-testing policy was in line with requirements at that point in time.

It’s still totally possible some of what McNeill says is true.

Auburn’s track record is far from spotless — the school escaped punishment for paying Cam Newton because “daddy took the money” — and it wouldn’t surprise anyone to learn that the Tigers changed grades, ignored failed drug tests or slipped their players some cash on the side.

But will anything come of these accusations? We know how inept Emmert and the NCAA have been at keeping powerful athletic programs in line. The Miami investigation was completely botched. The association is also facing a lawsuit for overstepping its authority in punishing Penn State for the Sandusky scandal.

USA Today even conducted an in-depth investigation into Emmert’s own past as a university administrator, which is full of questionable leadership decisions. 

Auburn has traditionally gotten off the hook under Emmert, and sadly I believe it will continue to do so because the NCAA can’t make anything happen, or when it does it goes too far.

We live in an age when the money tied to college athletics is almost unfathomable. Look at any smaller-sized school — Kennesaw State or Georgia State, for instance — and you’ll see them trying to build their athletic programs, because that’s easy street to cash central.

Consider the curious case of Kevin Ware, whose leg bent in directions I never want to see again.

Adidas, in conjunction with the NCAA, began selling T-shirts in reference to Ware, No. 5 on the Louisville Cardinals. You could even get one yourself for the bargain price of $24.99.

Ware receives none of that. If his recovery does not go as planned, he could even lose his athletic scholarship, the “payment” his school owes him. His future is at stake, and the NCAA is using his story to nickel and dime everyone along the way. It’s disgusting.

And that’s why the NCAA’s over-emphasis on the “student-athlete” is entirely bogus. Athletics first, classroom second has been the modus operandi for a long time running, and that won’t change any time soon.

As long as the schools keep making money, we will never see any of the “change” that Emmert so pompously alludes to in college athletics. There’s no just integrity, no backbone to support that talk.

Motion to impeach.

—Alec Shirkey is a finance and English double-major from Dunwoody

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  • Mackeaw posted at 9:49 am on Wed, Apr 17, 2013.

    Mackeaw Posts: 1

    Yet another reason I'm convinced your future profession is a JOKE. Inform future readers that this is a blog, and like a journal, things don't have to be true for you to write them.

  • jmcs posted at 10:33 am on Mon, Apr 15, 2013.

    jmcs Posts: 1

    The great irony hidden beneath these responses to Alec's article is that, while you lot criticize his writing skills, you are too enraged to acknowledge or more likely, to understand, why he chose to compose the article in the way that he did. Just as the NCAA has become a joke to many college sports fans, Alec's article is obviously tongue in cheek to some extent. His writing style is no worse than any or yours, that is simply the faux intellectual's device to criticize someone who they are not prepared to argue.

    As for some of the accusations made: That auburn gave Newton's "daddy" the money, while never acknowledged by the NCAA, is a fact that is hesitantly acknowledged by higher level administration involved with SEC athletics and the NCAA. The fact is, this was not illegal until recently.

  • Bleed Red and Black posted at 10:48 am on Sat, Apr 13, 2013.

    Bleed Red and Black Posts: 92

    As much as Auburn has historically ignored NCAA rules and has served more probations than any other SEC team, these current charges should be taken with a grain of salt. One big reason is the so called journalist that broke the story on her website. She is also the so called journalist that took hook, line, and sinker the dancer/prostitutes side of the Duke Lacrosse fiasco. She is not one to wait and do basic research to fight through the lies.
    Then again, she also went to Auburn.

  • NolaDawg posted at 11:11 am on Thu, Apr 11, 2013.

    NolaDawg Posts: 1

    Don't worry, bama and auburn fans, this article doesn't represent a bias against Auburn, but is just another in a series of examples of the Red & Black's bias against college athletics. You'll note the author also clearly misunderstands scholarships - Kevin Ware is in absolutely no danger of losing his scholarship due to injury, for example. I can definitely agree that this is a very poorly written example, though.

  • bamasux posted at 8:21 am on Thu, Apr 11, 2013.

    bamasux Posts: 1

    McNeill was not "hung out to dry". He commited armed robbery. AU and the football program banned him and the others from the university and team. Georgia would have done the same thing.

  • Veritatem posted at 9:42 pm on Wed, Apr 10, 2013.

    Veritatem Posts: 60

    Alec, you seem to have struck a nerve (or two, or three) in each of the Auburn paladins. Yes, it makes common (and statistical) sense that out of the blue Auburn got Cam Newton and won a BCS championship (only the third in its existence - 1913, 1957, 2010), the next year to drop back down to its typical mediocrity to the extent that its BCS winning coach was fired. Right. And there was no cheating in the Atlanta school system. Not being caught (which is not that hard) and not being found guilty is not the same as being innocent.

  • aub8three posted at 2:16 pm on Wed, Apr 10, 2013.

    aub8three Posts: 1

    Stick with the finance Shirkey.

  • Griffin posted at 1:52 pm on Wed, Apr 10, 2013.

    Griffin Posts: 1

    It would be easy to address the factual errors in this article. It would be even easier to address the blatant bias as well. It would be easy to identify your unprofessionalism that drips from every paragraph of this article. The easiest thing to do, however, is to merely note that you are an incredibly poor writer. Perhaps you should save your time and money, surpass that double major, and simply stick to finance. As an Auburn graduate, I am embarrassed for you. UGA is a better institution than this and worthy of better representation than the likes of this.

  • BamaBryan posted at 11:11 am on Wed, Apr 10, 2013.

    BamaBryan Posts: 1

    You know, as an Alabama fan, Georgia folks are usually just an afterthought to me - especially when they're bashing Auburn.

    But this is really an irresponsible piece.

    I think it's ironic that one of your rules for commenting on this web site is "Be truthful" when there are so many factual errors and pathetically biased assumptions in this "column."

    Example No. 1: ...the school escaped punishment for paying Cam Newton because “daddy took the money”...

    Seriously? Did you follow that case at all? If not, you should really read up on it before publishing such nonsense.

    It was never proven that money changed hands between Auburn and the Newton family. If it had been, the NCAA would have stripped Cam Newton of his Heisman Trophy and forced Auburn to vacate its BCS title - the same way they did with USC and Reggie Bush. If you have some evidence in the Auburn case that the rest of us haven't seen, you should write that story and establish yourself as a guy who broke some really big news instead of looking like a disgruntled Georgia fan who'd like to see Auburn go down in flames.

    Example No. 2: ...Auburn is "infamous" for its two mascots...

    Infamous in the eyes of who? Georgia fans who are miffed over their team winning just one national title in their grandfathers' lifetimes?

    Auburn is nationally known for the eagle that flies over its stadium just prior to kickoff, and its mascot, Aubie, has routinely been ranked as one of the best in the country by numerous organizations. Both elements rank among the top traditions in the SEC - far above Georgia's bulldog graveyard in my opinion.

    This is not a column. It's a jealous rant from a typical Georgia fan with short-guy syndrome. It would be iffy as a letter to the editor. As a column, it's just irresponsible.

    Motion to edit.

  • ksh2015 posted at 11:09 am on Wed, Apr 10, 2013.

    ksh2015 Posts: 1

    A large number of UGA's transfer students come from Auburn each year. Try and keep that in mind next time you write an inflammatory article about AU.

  • AJC posted at 8:04 am on Wed, Apr 10, 2013.

    AJC Posts: 1

    The author not only makes grossly inaccurate statements about Auburn's athletic program (Cam Newton, et. al.) but this article is factually inflammatory and clearly reflects the writer's hateful bias against AU. ZERO credibility for this author. Look at the facts and like AU or not there was NO guilt regarding AU and Cam Newton and after full internal and external investigations into these targeted claims by outsiders there is NOT a single piece of evidence to support these egregious claims. Can THUGA withstand such a thorough
    audit of it's athletic program? Would love to see it

  • WDE posted at 11:52 pm on Tue, Apr 9, 2013.

    WDE Posts: 1

    Your opinions are your own and you're free to write them, but the tree comment was inflammatory, unnecessary and unprofessional. I think a retraction is in order.