Auburn University's athletics history of NCAA rules violations can do nothing but make their current investigations both more shocking and less shocking at the same time. Stretching back at least 55 years, those around Auburn’s football and basketball teams have repeatedly pushed or blatantly violated rules, both admittedly and provable in the face of denial, to entice athletes to play for Auburn. The time before 1979 appears to provide the mindset for what occurs later. But since then, despite repeated major infractions the issue is legitimately posed as to whether those around Auburn University have ever quit paying players.
In the earliest days of college football, “scholarships” meant “academic scholarships.” Articles suggest that Auburn (originally, Alabama Polytechnic Institute Plainsmen) and others, mainly Southern schools, regularly gave players academic scholarships with little or no requirements upon the player to make progress toward a degree. Others arranged for classes at less than a college-level. Depending upon their own criteria, boosters or boosters' organizations might pay money or things of value for things such as tuition, room and board, regular expenses, more than regular expenses or occasionally in exchange for an agreement to attend school at the booster’s institution. Whether in the form of a scholarship or some other kind of payment, the exchange of money was called “subsidizing” players. In the early leagues transportation and communication necessitated that conferences wielded power, so logically, when southern teams wanted to provide players with legitimate athletic scholarships, deep south schools split from the Southern Conference to form the Southeast Conference. They adopted uniform athletic scholarship rules including academic progress provisions for conference members and banned non-scholarship practices of “subsidizing” players. By 1952 significant numbers of people supported athletic scholarships as having a place in a well-rounded education, and transportation and communication had developed to the point that the NCAA's time had come to establish and enforce nationwide, uniform rules regarding player eligibility.
Within four years after the NCAA enforcement structure began in January 1952, Auburn found itself in hot water for the first time. Auburn head coach Ralph “Shug” Jordan had begun his tenure in 1951. On May 2, 1956, the NCAA infractions council hit Auburn football with the most severe sanctions given to any school in short history of rules enforcement committee. An Auburn assistant coach gave $500 each to two twins to entice them to go to Auburn. Auburn, Florida, and Louisville Put On Probation, Sarasota Herald-Tribune, May 3, 1956, p. 13, via Google News Archive. The penalty consisted of three years probation, no participation in NCAA Championship events or invitational events, and a television blackout. The council also recommended expulsion for additional transgressions during the probation period. $500.00 in 1952 was worth somewhere in the neighborhood of $4,000.00 in 2010 and 2011. (See, usinflationcalculator.com, dollartimes.com, and westegg.com’s inflation calculators for 1952 to the present.) While on NCAA probation Auburn’s 1957 football team managed a 10-0 record and was awarded the national championship from the Associated Press and others. Auburn National Championships, AuburnFootball.com
Even though more rules violations came while Auburn remained on probation, once again the headlines read, “NCAA Slaps Probation on Auburn,” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, April 22, 1958, p. 22 via Google News Archive. Tacked on to the Plainsmen’s previous three-year probation was yet another three-year probation. They were barred from all NCAA post-season play and NCAA title contests for the same time period. For the second time penalties resulted because Auburn “offered illicit financial aid for the benefit of [the athlete] and his family.” As explained by Walter Byers, executive director of the NCAA, “The penalty against Auburn was doubly hard…because the school knew and alumnus offered the illegal aid to the player and must be held responsible.”
After spending 5 or 6 of the first 9 years of the existence of the NCAA enforcement committee on probation, when Auburn’s probation ended toward the end of the 1961 season, it was 17-18 years before Auburn would come under NCAA scrutiny again but that is not the same as avoiding any scrutiny. The SEC investigated Auburn after a former Alabama player, Sidney Roche of Columbus, GA claimed that he and another player, Ken Emerson (who denied the allegations), were offered money, a new car and clothing to play for the Tigers during his recruitment prior to the 1967 season. Roche was quoted as saying, “It was as if we signed it would be $1,000 then, we’d get $1,000 that summer apiece and that every year at school we’d get $1,000 during the season and another $1,000 at Christmas and that we’d have a new care our sophomore year.” Interestingly, the article also reports, “At Auburn, the athletic director Jeff Beard, and an assistant coach, Gene Lorendo, denied the charge.” Gridder Claims Auburn Offered Pay to Play, (AP) Daytona Beach Morning Journal, September 11, 1970, p. 21 via Google News Archive. By January 7, 1971 the SEC cleared Auburn of any wrongdoing. SEC Grants Clean Bill On Roller Investigation, Gadsden Times, Gadsden, Alabama, January 7, 1971, p. 15, via Google News Archive.
Initial indications in July of 1978 were that Auburn football and basketball recruiting violations were being investigated all the way back to 1971. SEC will assist Auburn probe, (AP), The Tuscaloosa News, July 12, 1978, p. 21 via Google News Archive. “Red Bamberg,” an Auburn University Trustee called one allegation “a pretty silly one” and said, “The NCAA’s rules are too stringent. I believe every university is guilty. Some schools are caught and some are uncaught.” NCAA investigating Auburn, (AP), Lewiston Morning Tribune, July 12, 1978, p. 2B via Google News Archive.
The “pretty silly” allegations over rules which were “too stringent” consisted of 18 individual rules infractions in football and basketball resulting in Auburn’s teams being placed on two years of probation, a television ban for the 1979 season, and a post-season ban for the 1979 season. Auburn’s probation would end on April 24, 1981. The Associated Press wrote:
In accordance with the “show cause” provision of the NCAA enforcement program, Auburn has disassociated itself from two former football coaches and will not accept recruiting assistance from seven representatives of its athletic interests during the probationary period.
The NCAA Committee on Infractions found in its investigation of the university “a pattern of deliberate violations on the part of certain representatives of the university’s athletic interests”…
The 16 violations, dating back to 1974, cited 21 instances of improper recruiting practices within the Auburn football program as well as 11 cases within the basketball program. In addition, one instance of improper aid to a football player already at the university was cited.
The infractions committee listed several cases in which a prospective football or basketball player was offered clothing, money or an automobile to attend Auburn. In at least two cases, a player was offered all three.
In another instance, a football player was offered cash and his mother a washing machine, money and a round-trip air fare between her home and the university.
Auburn teams put on probation, (AP), The Bangor Daily News, May 11, 1979, p. 11, via Google News Archive. Allegations going back to 1974 were at the end of Shug Jordan’s twenty-five-year reign as Auburn’s head coach which ended after the 1975 season. Although the dates of the allegations aren’t named in detail in the referenced article, it is implied that they didn’t occur solely on Shug Jordan’s watch. One has to wonder whether Las Vegas would have posted a proposition bet on whether Auburn would make it out of its probation period without any additional NCAA violations. A bettor would have lost by picking Auburn to make it out of probation before anything else occurred.
By November 1980 the NCAA Infractions Committee found several rules violations occurring after the NCAA placed Auburn on probation mainly related to the conduct of an Auburn booster. NCAA to extend Auburn probation for more violations, (UPI), Eugene Register-Guard, November 18, 1980, p. 5D, via Google News Archive. Auburn went on probation in May of 1979. The NCAA found, among other things, that only six months later “in November 1979 a booster offered cash to a prospective recruit in exchange for his signature on a conference letter of intent” and in “the same month the booster offered to purchase a recruit’s complimentary football tickets in excess of their face value and arrange for a job following graduation from high school.” The player was Steve Booker who accused an Auburn booster of offering him $300 and other illegal inducements and who went on to play at the University of Texas. Texas has AU connection, Gadsden Times, September 14, 1983, p. B2-6 via Google News Archive. Somehow the NCAA determined that the booster’s actions were isolated incidents and merely extended the Tigers’ probation a little more than five months, which did not effect any post-season play for the 1981 season. However, after the 1980 season Auburn Coach Doug Barfield was gone, and on January 3, 1981, Auburn hired as head football coach and athletic director, Pat Dye, who had resigned as Wyoming’s head football coach during the previous month. Pat Dye Named Auburn's Coach, UPI, New York Times, January 4, 1981 Dye was a Georgia native and UGA alum who coached as an assistant under Bear Bryant at Alabama. In hindsight, Dye hardly seems like a man hired to come into the Auburn program and bring it into compliance.
After having extremely successful seasons (with 9 wins in 1982 & 1984, going 11-1 in 1983 and 10-2 in 1986), Auburn football started to wobble before the fall. Surely to have been Cam Newton's inspiration in 2010, during the 1987 season Auburn quarterback Jeff Berger was described as having “more lives than a cat with a death wish” after having his eligibility restored for the third time during the season because he accepted “an illegal free airplane ride for a hunting trip Oct. 11.” For Auburn's Burger, where's the justice?, College Notebook by Steve DeShazo, The Free Lance-Star, Fredricksburg, Virginia, October 30, 1987, p. 13 via Google News Archive. More was to come.
In December 1987, senior cornerback Kevin Porter revealed his association with a sports agent. For that, Auburn suspended Porter for the Tigers’ Sugar Bowl appearance against the Syracuse Orangemen. However, Alabama prosecutors charged Porter’s sports agent Jim Abernathy with misdemeanor counts of commercial bribery, tampering with a sports event, and violation of the deceptive trade law, and Porter was called to testify in March, 1988. He revealed that payments to him actually occurred before the 1987 football season which potentially jeopardized Auburn’s season and Sugar Bowl revenue for playing an ineligible player. The trial also featured testimony from someone well-known to us, Atlanta Journal Constitution reporter Chris Mortensen regarding sports agents and college football. Porter testifies in agents' trial, by Kendal Weaver of the Associated Press, The Times-News, March 1, 1988, p. 16, via Google News Archive.
Hardly three months later, around June 15, 1988, Auburn and Pat Dye inked a four-year contract which included an annuity that could be worth up to $1,000,000 dollars when Dye retired. Sports Et Cetera -- Compiled by Vincent Butler from AP, The Milwaukee Journal, June 16, 1988, p. 2C. Dye’s contract and annuity were a ho-hum “sports extras” until August 3, 1988, when Bob Dare, the father of heavily recruited high school lineman, Charlie Dare, publicly accused Pat Dye himself making illegal inducements in exchange for Dare’s signature. Keep in mind that this was an accusation against Auburn’s head football coach and athletic director because Dye held both positions. Dare’s father accused Dye of promising that Charlie Dare’s grades and ACT scores would be good enough for the younger to enter Auburn. On the day prior to this article, The Huntsville Times reported details from anonymous sources that the ACT would have been taken in Florida with the relative of one of Auburn’s assistant coaches. In fact, Auburn assistant Bud Casey had a brother-in-law who was a director of ACT testing at a Florida high school. When questioned about the circumstances, Auburn officials revealed that they had begun an internal investigation into a recruiting matter about six weeks previously, which coincided with Pat Dye’s contract extension. Father of Recruit Says Pat Dye Made Improper Offer, (AP) Waycross Journal-Herald, August 5, 1988, p. 6, via Google News Archive. Pat Dye denied the charges, sometimes with a smile (Auburn's Dye unconcerned with charges, (AP) The Gadsden Times, Gadsden, AL, May 10, 1989, p. C1, via Google News Archive) while Auburn suspended assistant Bud Casey, and Robert Dare complained that Auburn engaged in personal attacks on him. Dare Blames Auburn for 'Smear Campaign' , (AP) The Gadsden Times, August 14, 1988, p. C1, via Google News Archive. Ultimately the NCAA did not find enough evidence to support the allegation, but it was nothing more than a battle in a larger war. Profile of UA's Dye-hard enigma, (AP) The Gadsden Times, November 8, 1989, p. D4, via Google News Archive.
It wouldn’t be known publicly for another three years or so, but it was almost certainly known in advance what Auburn basketball player Chuck Person would say in sworn deposition testimony provided in July, 1988. (Again, Dye inked a new contract the month before.) He testified that he received payments from an Auburn booster as early as 1982 and also received several other payments before his eligibility completed. Tapes support Auburn payment allegations, (AP) The Post and Courier, North Charleston, S.C., October 21, 1991, p. 6-C, via Google News Archive. After the Montgomery Advisor broke Person’s story and the details regarding Eric Ramsey, below, it so infuriated Pat Dye that he urged fans not to buy the newspaper or its advertisers, and later, he denied it was a call for a boycott. Auburn AD urges boycott of newspaper, (AP) The Pittsburgh Post Gazette, October 26, 1991, p. 5, via Google News Archive. However, for all the unrighteous anger Pat Dye summoned, he could not stop the first shoe from falling. “The infractions committee found a number of recruiting violations in the basketball program: providing gifts and benefits; offering to assist in obtaining a car loan; exceeding the number of allowed visits; falsifying the time when a national letter-of-intent was signed; and providing improper transportation.” Auburn basketball was barred from the NCAA tournament which brought with it a prohibition from even playing in the SEC tournament. Once again, an Auburn assistant coach was disciplined. NCAA Slaps Auburn with 2-year Probation, The Sarasota Herald-Tribune, Sarasota, Florida, November, 19, 1991, p. 4C, via Google News Archive.
Separately from Person and Auburn basketball, the Tigers’ cornerback Eric Ramsey figuratively had Pat Dye, Auburn football, and institutional control by the balls. Ramsey secretly taped his conversation(s) with Pat Dye, (see, Tapes support above) and after revealing possession of those tapes, Auburn administrators chose to ignore allegations of multiple students that Ramsey cheated in a class. Auburn professors detail earlier threats Eric Ramsey Made, (AP) The Gainesville Sun, December 22, 1991, p. 5C, via Google News Archive. The twisted beginning of the end of Pat Dye’s tenure at Auburn came as excerpts of Ramsey's tapes aired in the 60 Minutes episode just prior to Christmas, 1991. 60 Minutes airs parts of Ramsey's tapes, (AP) The Pittsburgh Post Gazette, December 23, 1991, p. 20, via Google News Archive. The tapes were not so significant for what Pat Dye said, because he did not verbally incriminate himself, but as both the head football coach and athletic director, he made no further inquiry when Ramsey suggested he received improper benefits. Even for a head football coach/athletic director in denial, Pat Dye could see the signs.
On April 30, 1992, Pat Dye resigned as Auburn’s AD. Dye quits as Auburn's AD, The Milwaukee Journal, May 1, 1992, p.C-3, via Google News Archive. Giving himself one more football season, Pat Dye resigned as head football coach on November 25, 1992. Under pressure, Dye resigns Auburn post, Eugene Register-Guard, Eugene, Oregon, November 26, 1992, p. 4C, via Google News Archive. Earlier that month, Dye admitted that Auburn violated of NCAA rules by paying Ramsey. Within a month later, Auburn hired Terry Bowden, son of Florida State’s Bobby Bowden, as the War Eagle head coach. Auburn Tabs Terry Bowden To Succeed Dye, (AP) Waycross, Journal-Herald, Waycross, Georgia, p. P-10, via Google News Archive.
On August 18, 1993, the NCAA Infractions Committee sentenced Auburn to two years of probation to be served after the Tigers finish the probation they were on. The NCAA banned Auburn football from post-season play for two years, and once again banned them for one year from television, including tape-delayed broadcasts. Auburn lost scholarships over the next three years and was forced to disassociate from a former assistant football coach, an executive assistant at Auburn, and two other university representatives. The NCAA forced Auburn to split the position of head coach / athletic director into two positions. For these circumstances alone, the Tigers managed six major violations, and although the NCAA did not find that Pat Dye knew about cash payments, he did know about loans and other benefits, as if there was truly any distinction. Dye said that he was bothered that he did not know the NCAA violations were happening. Auburn hit hard by NCAA, by Jerry Felts, The Times Daily, Florence Alabama, August 19, 1993, p. 1 via Google News Archive. However, Dye's plausible deniability ultimately became implausible.
In 2003, tapes of a 2001 off-the record interview of Terry Bowden surfaced.
Former Auburn coach Terry Bowden said on tape two years ago that boosters were funneling thousands of dollars to players when he became coach in 1993, a time when the Tigers were on NCAA probation.
"They were paying players cash, $12,000, $15,000 to sign," Bowden said on a recording reviewed by the Associated Press. "All I was told to do was shake hands and say, "Thank you. I appreciate how much you love Auburn.' "
Bowden did not make clear whether he reported the payment scheme to the NCAA, but said on the tape: "When I came here, I put an end to it."
Bowden's comments were reported Sunday by the Opelika-Auburn News. A columnist taped the comments in a meeting about two years ago, and a copy of the tape was made available to AP.
Bowden did not return a call by the AP to his Orlando home. He is a commentator for ABC Sports, where spokesman Adam Freifield said Bowden contended the remarks were off the record and had no further comment.
A statement issued by Auburn questioned why remarks made by Bowden in 2001 are only now being reported. The columnist who taped the comments, Paul Davis, said there had been concern Bowden's remarks were "off the record" and not for publication. Davis said Bowden has sent him an e-mail encouraging their publication.
The school's statement also said Bowden repeatedly had certified to the NCAA from 1993-98 that "he was unaware of any unreported violations of NCAA rules by anyone involved with the Auburn football program."
Though there is a four-year statute of limitations for NCAA violations, there is an exception if the infraction is considered "blatant." NCAA spokeswoman Kay Hawes wouldn't comment on the specifics of the allegations.
William Muse, who was president of Auburn during Bowden's term as coach, also said in newly released transcripts that he had heard rumors of a pay-for-play scheme but that it was never verified during the NCAA investigation.
Bowden resigned as coach during the 1998 season as his relations with a powerful trustee, Robert Lowder, became strained.
On the tape, Bowden said 25-30 boosters would meet in Birmingham and 15-20 would meet in Rome, Ga., and that they would give $5,000 each. He said that when he arrived at Auburn, an assistant collected the money.
On the tape, Bowden said he took a stand against the practice. "I'm going to finish that deal. That's over with," he said he told one of those involved.
On tape, Terry Bowden says boosters had paid Auburn recruits to sign, The St. Petersburg Times, online, September 17, 2003. In his position of a whistleblower Bowden did not stand alone in his assertions that he told Auburn's AD of payments to players, albeit after Bowden's tenure at Auburn. “Lude, who became Auburn's athletic director in 1992 to help the university work with the NCAA in an investigation of illegal payments to player Eric Ramsey, said he had no "concrete evidence" players were paid as claimed by Bowden. But he said Bowden told him of such payments in 1999 and 2001.” Statements support Bowden's Revelations, (AP) ESPN.com, September 23, 2003 Bowden answered no further questions about the tapes, and the reporter did not talk either. The question of when Bowden “took a stand against the practice” left a hole as big as Dallas in the story.
In 2001 it was Auburn Basketball’s turn to come under an investigation which simmered and percolated for almost two years. On September 5, 2003, the story read, “NCAA charges against Auburn include a claim that an assistant basketball coach offered a high school star $50,000 and a car to sign with the school, The Birmingham News reported Thursday…the offer went to Chadd Moore of Huntsville…The NCAA also charged Auburn in the recruitment of Jackie Butler of McComb, Miss….The News said Auburn assistant coach Shannon Weaver and former assistant Mike Wilson were accused of making improper offers to recruits…” Report: Player offered car and cash by Auburn coach, Rome News Tribune, Rome, GA, p. 2B, via Google News Archive. On April 29, 2004 the NCAA decided that the conflicts in the evidence were too great for Auburn to be found guilty of any major violations including the allegations of offers to pay recruits. Nonetheless, for excessive contacts with prospective players the NCAA put Auburn basketball on probation for the next two years. NCAA Hits Auburn with 2 Years' Probation, MSNBC.com, April 29, 2004.
Most recently 4 Auburn players who were on Tiger teams from 2002 through 2007 alleged that boosters or an assistant coach gave them money while playing for Auburn. Probably the most complete article detailing the piece which aired on HBO Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel is Ex-Auburn Players Claim Systematic Pay-To-Play, Sportsbybrooks.com, March 29, 2011.
Lastly, the Cam Newton story can be read just about anyplace else but here. There is no need to start now (unless someone can track down whether the "Curtis Jackson" who was sued in a little-reported lawsuit along with Cecil Newton in a small town in Georgia over a building and land as I recall is the same "Curtis Jackson" a.k.a. rapper 50 Cent. Now that might make me reconsider.)
Fair Conclusions from History
What do the following men have in common?
Ralph “Shug” Jordan
If you said that all have been head football coaches at Auburn, award yourself a gold star for having a really heightened perception of the obvious. The better answer is that every one of them has had some allegation that prospects or players were paid during their tenure at Auburn. Every Auburn head football coach for the last 60 years suffers with that taint.
Here is another set of tendencies.
An Auburn assistant coach gave $500 each to two twins to entice them to go to Auburn.
“At Auburn, the athletic director Jeff Beard, and an assistant coach, Gene Lorendo, denied the charge.”
Auburn has disassociated itself from two former football coaches and will not accept recruiting assistance from seven representatives of its athletic interests during the probationary period.
On the day prior to this article, The Huntsville Times reported details from anonymous sources that the ACT would have been taken in Florida with the relative of one of Auburn’s assistant coaches.
Auburn lost scholarships over the next three years and was forced to disassociate from a former assistant football coach, an executive assistant at Auburn, and two other university representatives.
NCAA charges against Auburn include a claim that an assistant basketball coach…
Most recently 4 Auburn players who were on Tiger teams from 2002 through 2007 alleged that boosters or an assistant coach…
The point is not so much that assistant coaches have been involved in payment allegations as much at it is with the consistency with which they are included. Their contacts with players and boosters fail to raise suspicion even at odd hours or in private settings. At the same time they are expendable.
Of all the information provided in some detail above, Terry Bowden’s allegations, if true (in fact, add “if true” to paragraphs that follow), provide the best suggestion of how money may have funneled to Auburn players in an organized manner over the years. From one side, cathartic confessions like his usually contain a good deal of truth. Bowden “outs” himself when he admits that he oversaw a program that cheated because players were paid on his watch, or he inescapably brands himself as a liar now or a liar at the time he certified to the NCAA that he knew of no organizational violations each year. While we usually tell the truth about something which hurts us to relieve ourselves of carrying personal burdens of wrong-doing, some also speak out without considering the implications. For those who believe simply that Bowden is an idiot, Bowden’s words weigh heavily against his credibility. For them, Bowden opens his mouth and removes all doubt as the expression goes. After all, he was a mid-level school head coach at best before and after his time at Auburn. But the argument proves its point too well. Over five-and-a-half seasons Bowden had a 47-16-1 record at Auburn, winning just more than 73% of his games. If Bowden were a dolt, then his players likely made the difference.
“On the tape, Bowden said 25-30 boosters would meet in Birmingham and 15-20 would meet in Rome, Ga., and that they would give $5,000 each. He said that when he arrived at Auburn, an assistant collected the money,” the article said. Bowden does not elaborate on how often any of these meetings would be held. Was it every year? Was it every two years? All in all, a total of 40-50 boosters between Birmingham and Rome, GA, would provide a slush fund ranging from $200,000 to $250,000 at one time. The money would be more than enough to pay a whole recruiting class thousands of dollars each and have money remaining for “performance bonuses” throughout the year. Allegations made by Chadd Moore and Jackie Butler were within the realm of possibility under such an arrangement just as the alleged $180,000 thrown about as a number in Cam Newton’s story was possible without any additional efforts.
Whether as a continuous effort or not, the blueprint for such an organization may have existed before NCAA enforcement. Boosters and booster organizations were sometimes the ones who “subsidized” players, and rules reformed the practice to require schools to award scholarship money and not the boosters or booster organizations. But the assistant coaches were always the key. They would never hand out money for the school. Rarely having the money to pay players as admitted or alleged, the assistants who did such things were mules carrying money from boosters to the players from Auburn’s very first NCAA infraction where an assistant paid twins $500 each to sign with the Plainsmen.
My conclusions are derived from what we know to be true or alternatively what has been alleged to be true, but even with the Terry Bowden story around 2003, reaching the conclusion that an organization started sometime before NCAA enforcement smacks of theory, doesn't it? This will start to close the gap. When a topic is enough out in the open enough that someone will speak publicly about it, and an audience will listen, then people may be persuaded to act.
"Columbus, GA -- Auburn alumni have no right to protest unless they want to make money available to make it interesting for some of the better players to wear Auburn uniforms, Auburn coach Carl Voyles told the Columbus quarterback club yesterday.
"Auburn offers a scholarship, all expenses and a $10 per month for choice football talent just as the southeastern conference rules permit," said Voyles. "But recently a fellow who wanted to enroll at Auburn very badly complained that he just couldn't make a go of it for that money. He entered another school."
Referring to football players being paid to play, the Auburn coach said, "I don't know how they do it. I wish I did. And I also wish some of the disgruntled alumni would get busy if that is what they want at Auburn.""
Auburn Coach Says Alumni Can Kick In, Sarasota Herald-Tribune, Sarasota, FL, October 14, 1947,p. 6, via Google News Archive.
It's stunning to see a printed quote from an Auburn coach which encourages Auburn alumni to organize and come up with money to pay players if they wanted to compete.
Since the allegations arose in 1978 dating back to the end of Shug Jordan’s coaching career in 1975, specific allegations or findings of wrongdoing cover the end of the 1970s, the majority of the 1980s, and they continued at least in 1993 according to Terry Bowden as the NCAA investigated Auburn. Auburn basketball was alleged to have engaged in the same conduct toward the end of the 1990s and current allegations pick up the time periods from 2002-2007 and 2010.
When senior football writer for SportingNews.com took an interest in the above story, it was easy to construe it as him being appreciative of the effort. By itself, that was cool even if my penned words began on SportingNews.com blogs. Mutual friend Steve Rivet, a Florida Gator Fan who passed away last year, made the introduction but the post above helped a lot. It remained just a curiosity until last year.
Matt Hayes' post on Bleacher Report, Cheat or Go Home: Inside the 'Dysfunctional Hell' of Becoming a CFB Coach was nothing short of stunning. It WAS confirmation of the most critical part of this article having to do with the post-Pat Dye days when an Auburn hammered by the NCAA was claimed to STILL CHEAT as if nothing ever happened.
Hayes deals with the current affairs of trying to play by the rules in SEC/College Football and then comes this BOMB. Hayes breaks person and delivers his own first-hand account, of being in a room with Terry Bowden:
Everything changed within his first week. An assistant coach from the previous staff, whom Bowden was told he had to retain, walked into his office and placed a black ledger on his desk. It was a list of players who were being paid.
This is how we do it around here, Bowden was told.
This story has been told throughout the years and has almost become folklore, with too many incorrect iterations clouding reality. Auburn officials have always denied it, the NCAA could never nail it down and the statute of limitations on infractions has long since passed.
But here's the catch: I've seen the ledger.
Saw it 13 years ago when Bowden—now the coach at Akron—was a studio host for ABC's college football coverage and lived in my hometown. I went to his house one sleepy spring morning, expecting to talk about why such a successful coach had walked away from it all. He sat behind the desk of a makeshift office in his master bedroom, pulled out the ledger and plopped it on his desk.
Just like it had happened to him.
I saw the names, saw the money, saw the way players were recruited and what they were paid.
"See that!" Bowden said that day. "The look on your face was the same look on my face when I first saw it."
Bowden told the assistant coach, "Pay off the players that were promised and never do it again."There is every reason to believe that the accounts of meetings in Rome, Georgia and on the plains were true because the dollars for the journal Hayes saw came from somewhere.
The conclusion is hardly a stretch. Paying players at Auburn is ingrained in the plains cultural. The original question which ended this post is almost too cautious:
Since the 1970s, have those around Auburn ever stopped paying players?
Catching flack as I usually do on message boards, I went ahead and listed the years in which public allegations of payment of players were alleged to have occurred for an overjoyed Auburn fan.
1977 See article or May 11, 1979 Tuscaloosa News, page 7. It's not searchable because the pages are scanned in the wrong way. Funny how that happens.
1986 Ramsey Allegations
1987 Ramsey Allegations
1988 Ramsey's "bonus money from last year"
1989 Payment on Ramsey's car
1990 Ramsey Allegations Cite for all of the above and "yes" Ramsey was on the 5 year plan
1992 or 1993 Terry Bowden (count only one of the two)
2000 or 2001 Chadd Moore allegations
2002 Jackie Butler Allegations
2002 HBO 4 allegations (count one of the 2002s)
2003 HBO 4 allegations
2004 HBO 4 allegations
2005 HBO 4 allegations
2006 HBO 4 allegations
2007 HBO 4 allegations
2010 Cam Newton Allegations
It's been 37 years since 1974. I can locate public allegations of payment to players against Auburn in 24 of them. -- SharpTusk