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           === Auburn responds to 2010 academic fraud allegations ===
 
 Auburn,  AL (Sports  Network) - Auburn athletic director Jay Jacobs released a
 letter  Monday  in response to allegations  of academic fraud among members of
 the 2010 national championship football team reported earlier this month.
 
 Roopstigo.com,  a website  run by former New York Times and Sports Illustrated
 writer  Selena Roberts, had reported that players had grades changed to remain
 eligible for the team's national championship game against Oregon.
 
 Jacobs,  in Monday's  letter, said the article prompted an internal review and
 the results found no such evidence.
 
 Roberts  had reported  that as many as nine players had grades changed. Jacobs
 stated  that six  players were  academically ineligible  for the  BCS National
 Championship game and none made the trip to Arizona.
 
 In the article, former Auburn cornerback Mike McNeil asserted that an academic
 counselor  was able  to have the player's  grade changed from an F -- given to
 him  because he  missed too many classes  -- to a C to remain eligible. Jacobs
 said  the  professor did  change McNeil's grade  after documented reasons were
 provided, including excused absences for medical reasons.
 
 "The independent review by Auburn University Internal Auditing showed that all
 institutional  policies  regarding grade  changes  for  excused absences  were
 followed," Jacobs stated.
 
 McNeil,  who was dismissed from the football program after being a participant
 in  an  alleged armed robbery  in 2011,  also said in  the article that he was
 given  $400 from then-defensive coordinator Will Muschamp after a tough day at
 practice  in  2007. Muschamp,  now  the  head  coach at  Florida,  immediately
 disputed those claims.
 
 In  the article,  McNeil added that coaches gave him $500 to entertain recruit
 Dre  Kirkpatrick on an official visit to Auburn. The NCAA allows less than $50
 a day for such spending. Jacobs said Kirkpatrick never took an official visit.
 
 "As  Auburn's athletics  director, it's my job  -- no matter how proud I am of
 Auburn   --  to  carefully  review  charges  made  against  our  program  when
 warranted." Jacobs said in the letter.
 
 "As  the facts demonstrate,  the article is clearly flawed. I want you to know
 that  I  will always act on  the basis of facts.  I will continue to fight for
 Auburn  University, and  I  will  continue to  defend  this great  institution
 against such attacks."
 
 The  2010 Auburn  team was  led  by Heisman  Trophy winner  Cam Newton,  whose
 eligibility  was in question during the season because of allegations that his
 father  requested money  during recruitment.  The NCAA  cleared Auburn  of any
 wrongdoing.
 
 Auburn's  head coach at  the time was Gene Chizik, who was fired last November
 after the Tigers finished 2012 with a 3-9 record, including 0-8 in the SEC.
 
 "Coach  Chizik came  to Auburn with a  strong record of rules compliance and a
 reputation  as a  man of the utmost character and integrity," Jacobs added. "I
 have  enormous respect for coach Chizik, the way he ran his program throughout
 his  entire  tenure at  Auburn and  also the way  he left  -- with dignity and
 class."
 
 About  a week  after the article was  printed, McNeil accepted a plea deal for
 three years in prison and three years of probation for first-degree robbery.
 
 
 04/22 12:52:37 ET

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