This afternoon I received an advance copy from HBO of tomorrow night’s episode of Real Sports With Bryant Gumbel. The episode focuses on big time college athletics and specifically, the money institutions and the NCAA make off student athletes.
The show spends a considerable amount of time on Auburn and focuses on four players who say they received illegal benefits while being recruited and playing for the Tigers during the Tommy Tuberville era.
It’s a scathing report that whether true or not, will deliver a huge black eye to the Auburn program.
Real Sports correspondent Andrea Kremer talks with former Auburn players Stanley McClover, Troy Reddick, Chaz Ramsey and Raven Gray.
In the report, McClover said Auburn was not the only one to offer him money during his recruitment. While at an LSU football camp his senior year of high school, he said he was given money for the first time.
“A booster came up and said, ‘We’d love for you to come to LSU,’” says McClover. “He shook my hand and I had $500 in there. It was called a money handshake.”
Another time, McClover says he received $1,000 while visiting Ohio State on a recruiting trip. According to McClover the school went a step farther. “When I got there (Ohio State) I met up with a couple of guys on the team; we went to a party and they said pick any girl you want,” he said.
Kremer asked him if that meant for sexual services. McClover responded, “Yes.” Following that weekend he committed to the Buckeyes. Ohio State denies the allegations.
McClover says Auburn and Michigan State also provided $1,000 handshakes during his recruitment. But according to McClover things heated up at Auburn.
“I remember it like it was yesterday,” he said. “(A booster said) what do we have to do to get you to come to Auburn University. And I gave them an answer.”
McClover says he received an undisclosed amount of money in a book bag a short while later. “I almost passed out,” he said. I felt obligated to them (Auburn).” Kremer points out in the segment that there is no documentation to validate McClover’s story.
Kremer also spoke with former Auburn offensive lineman Troy Reddick, who acknowledged receiving money while playing at the school.
“I was contacted by a representative of a local alumni and offered a large sum of money,” said Reddick. He says he didn’t accept the money from the Auburn booster.
Reddick goes on to say that while at Auburn, he became increasingly unhappy because coaches wanted him to change his major because it got in the way of football practice.
“I changed my major so my classes didn’t interfere no more,” he says. “But I didn’t bother to go (to class) because I knew I was only there to play football.”
Reddick says Auburn coaches became aware of his unhappiness after he started to complain regularly. “After practice one day, one of the assistance coaches said, ‘I got some mail for you up in my office,’” said Reddick.
“I went up to his office and he gave me an envelope. I walked back to my truck and opened it up; it was about $500.”
Kremer asked Reddick how many times this happened while at Auburn. “Over that season (his junior year) it happened like two or three times and it happened six or seven times my senior year.”
During his junior season, McClover said he had his eye on a 1973 Chevy Impala that was for sale. “The private seller wanted $7,000 in cash. I went to my booster I know and he gave me the money in a book bag the next day,” he said.
As McClover became better on the playing field, he said he no longer had to ask for money. He said he received money based on the number of sacks he got in a game. Following his memorable 2005 Iron Bowl performance, he said he received $4,000 for his play.
Former Auburn offensive lineman Chaz Ramsey says he also received money handshakes. “You walk out and fans are lined up for autographs and then some guy shakes your hand and it’s a wad full of money – $300 or $400 a game,” says Ramsey.
To Kremer’s credit, she does ask Ramsey about his lawsuit (recently dismissed) against the University and whether these allegations are a result of that action. Ramsey says he holds no grudge and he’s simply telling the truth.
Ramsey goes on to say that he benefited from the sale of his student tickets – an NCAA violation. “I would sell tickets all the time,” he said. “I’d make $1,000 a ticket sometimes.” During his playing career Ramsey estimates that he pocketed $5,000 to $6,000 off ticket sales.
Former Auburn player Raven Gray says he also received illegal benefits while being recruited in 2007 out of junior college. “This booster man giving me money, I’m going to be loyal to him and go to Auburn.”
Reddick said that following the 2004 Championship Celebration in Auburn, he sold his gold watch as he was walking off the stage. “It was useless to me. My sister’s house was being foreclosed on and I needed the money to help her.”
Reddick said players never talked about the illegal payments. “Guys will talk about all kinds of criminal activity, but they won’t talk about that (illegal payments). I believe a guy would talk about raping a girl before he would talk about getting money.”
It’s important to note that throughout the report there was never any proof presented of these allegations. The program will air tomorrow night at 9 p.m. CT on HBO.