Gene Chizik responds to allegations

Updated: April 4, 2013, 11:19 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

Former coach Gene Chizik on Thursday called a report that alleged Auburn paid players and changed their grades under his leadership "long on accusation and inference, but short on facts and logic."

The report, published Wednesday on the website of author Selena Roberts, Roopstigo.com, interviewed former Auburn players who said the football program changed players' grades to secure eligibility, offered money to potential NFL draft picks so they would return for their senior seasons and violated NCAA recruiting rules under Chizik.

Chizik, in a written statement released through his agent Thursday, likened Roberts' report to the same speculation that enveloped the program during the NCAA's investigation into the father of former quarterback Cam Newton in 2010.

"The recent story published by Selena Roberts is more of the same. It once again portrays Auburn University, current and former coaches, professors, fans, supporters and community officials in a false light," Chizik wrote.

Three former Auburn players told Roberts that as many as nine players' grades were changed before Auburn's win in the 2011 BCS National Championship Game.

In a statement released Thursday, Auburn athletics director Jay Jacobs said Auburn is reviewing the report, even though the school has "no reason to believe these allegations are either accurate or credible."

Chizik, fired after a 3-9 season last year, denied any personal wrongdoing.

"During my time as Auburn's head coach, I never authorized, instructed or directed anyone to change any player's grade or provide any type of illegal payment to any student-athlete," Chizik wrote. "Likewise, I am not aware of any alleged grade change or illegal payment by any member of my coaching staff, support staff or anyone else."

According to the report, Auburn coaches offered money to players for any number of reasons, including as a means to persuade players to bypass the NFL draft.

"The notion that there was ever an attempt to sabotage any Auburn student-athlete's attempt to play professional football is outrageous," Chizik wrote. "Auburn's success in transitioning student-athletes to the NFL benefits both the student-athlete and the Auburn program."

Roberts' story focuses on the 2011 arrest of former Auburn safety Mike McNeil, who is awaiting trial for robbery, a fact Chizik pointed out in his statement. Chizik also wrote he believes any misconduct would have been discovered by the NCAA investigation that Newton's father had asked for money during his son's recruitment.

"The notion that the conduct inferred by Ms. Roberts was occurring under the NCAA's nose, at the very same time the NCAA is conducting its thorough investigation, lacks merit," Chizik wrote.

Many of the Auburn players quoted in the report told AL.com and wrote on Twitter that they had been misquoted.

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