- Edward Aschoff, ESPN Staff Writer
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According to a report by former New York Times and Sports Illustrated writer Selena Roberts, Auburn players' grades were changed in order to secure eligibility, money was offered to potential NFL draft picks so they would return for their senior seasons and NCAA recruiting rules were violated under former coach Gene Chizik.
In Roberts' report, which can be read on her website, Roopstigo.com, three former Auburn players said that as many as nine players' grades were changed before the Tigers won the 2011 BCS national title.
Former Auburn players Mike McNeil, who is going on trial next week on charges for armed robbery, and Mike Blanc told Roberts that money for players reached "several thousand dollars." The report also said that McNeil received $400 from former Auburn defensive coordinator and current Florida head coach Will Muschamp in 2007.
Players have since denied Roberts' report.
When reached by AL.com on Wednesday afternoon, Blanc denied any knowledge of cash payments to Auburn players:
"Yeah. Me, personally, I don't have any direct knowledge of it. You just hear stuff. I'm pretty sure other guys on the team that know more, like guys that were closer to Darvin [Adams] and these other players I know. Darvin probably would have told those guys. I know Mike and Darvin were really cool. Maybe Darvin could have shared some information with Mike. But, me, personally, I don't know nothing factual that any guys got any money."
Blanc later had this to say on Twitter:
"Man this article is outrageous and isn't true. The media will do anything for a juicy story smh #sad."
Former defensive end Antoine Carter, who was quoted in Roberts' report, tweeted this Wednesday:
"Please don't remix my words."
"I Believe in Auburn and Love It #WDE."
Former defensive back Neiko Thorpe also took to Twitter on Wednesday:
"While I spoke to Selena Roberts about Mike I have just read her article & not only am I misquoted but my words are very out of context."
"We didn't talk about NCAA violations or recruiting. I'm proud 2 have played at Auburn & the opportunities it gave me."
We'll have more on the SEC blog as things develop.