April 22, 2013
Dear Auburn Family,
In response to an article published by Roopstigo.com earlier this month, we have reviewed the allegations of academic fraud made in the story. Even though many of the sources interviewed for the article criticized the reporter for misquoting or misrepresenting them as soon as the story appeared, the allegations were serious enough to prompt an internal review.
The most serious allegation is the claim that academic fraud occurred prior to the 2011 BCS National Championship game. Auburn Athletics and Auburn University Internal Auditing have completed independent reviews of the academic allegations. There is no evidence academic fraud occurred.
The article alleges improper grade changes took place to make student-athletes eligible for the 2011 BCS National Championship Game. That is false. In fact, six players were academically ineligible for the BCS National Championship game, and none of them made the trip to Arizona with the team.
The article also states that former football student-athlete Michael Dyer was academically ineligible prior to the BCS National Championship game. That is also false. Mr. Dyer was never in danger of academic ineligibility. In fact, he passed 15 hours during the fall of 2010 (nine more than required by the NCAA) and had a 2.8 GPA at the end of the fall semester. Mr. Dyer actually passed a combined 24 hours in the summer and fall semesters.
The article also implies that an academic counselor who works with the athletic department kept Mike McNeil eligible by changing his grade in a course from an F to a C. The article fails to point out that the professor changed Mr. McNeil's grade after documented reasons were provided, including excused absences from classes for medical reasons. The independent review by Auburn University Internal Auditing showed that all institutional policies regarding grade changes for excused absences were followed.
It is also worth noting that while Mr. McNeil also alleges that former Auburn assistant coach Will Muschamp paid him during the 2007 season, Coach Muschamp immediately and publicly denied the allegations, as was widely reported throughout the media.
The article also claims that Mr. McNeil recalls receiving $500 cash to entertain a former prospect, Dre Kirkpatrick, while Mr. Kirkpatrick was on an official visit to Auburn. Mr. Kirkpatrick never took an official visit to Auburn. Mr. Kirkpatrick has since publicly stated that no one at Auburn gave him money or spent money on him during unofficial visits to our campus.
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.
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.
One more thing needs to be said about this story, which unfairly attacked former Head Coach Gene Chizik. Coach Chizik came to Auburn with a strong record of rules compliance and a reputation as a man of the utmost character and integrity. 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.
Auburn will bounce back
There is no question that this has been a tough year for Auburn Athletics. We all expect better, and we know we have to win. As disappointing as this year has been, rest assured we will bounce back. We always have.
As part of our efforts to get better, we are also committed to being as transparent as possible with our stakeholders. That is why I wanted to let you know that a top-notch team of current and former coaches, athletics administrators, student-athletes and business executives will be coming in to give us a comprehensive evaluation. We welcome this review.
The review committee, which was selected by President Gogue, is comprised of individuals whose expertise and experience puts them in position to independently and objectively evaluate the Athletics Department—while also offering insight into our strengths as well as the areas in which we must improve.
It will be a top-to-bottom review, but Dr. Gogue has asked the committee to focus on five specific areas. They include the following: academic and support services for our student-athletes; the department's financial management and health; the gameday experience for fans and customer service; all aspects of competition, including sportsmanship, compliance and winning; and the department's management structure, including the effectiveness of its leadership.
This review of athletics is part of Dr. Gogue's regular evaluation process that takes place annually for all senior administrators and campus units.
An A-Day to remember, a title to celebrate
In closing, I want to thank all 83,401 of you who came to Saturday's A-Day game. I also want to thank the tens of thousands who came to the celebration at Toomer's Corner. It was a day none of us will ever forget.
It is fitting that Saturday's celebration ended up not being the last time to roll the historic oaks. Coach Greg Williams and the Auburn Equestrian team gave us one more good excuse to roll them again last night.
I know you join me in congratulating the Equestrian team on winning both the overall and Hunt Seat National Championships in Waco this weekend. The wins marked the program's third overall National Championship and its third Hunt Seat title.
The trees might be dead, but the Auburn spirit is alive. And it's stronger than ever.
God Bless and War Eagle!