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Auburn Softball Program Under Fire

By on August 29th, 2017 in News, Other Sports, Softball 27 Comments »
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The Auburn softball team celebrates on May 14, 2016 after winning its second consecutive SEC Championship by defeating LSU 7-1

Auburn fans were dealt a double whammy this week following coach Clint Myers’ unexpected retirement when news broke on every major sports site regarding new information that uncovered what many feared but sort of expected: a scandal. ESPNW published an article on the subject that paints a picture of a corrupt softball program. The sports conglomerate cited actions and quotes from a lot of people within and around the program. However, I caution everyone to be objective, especially when it comes to the information within the article, which paints an “us versus them” picture of coaches and players and does its best to trash Auburn’s softball program.  

ESPNW broke the news that former player Alexa Nemeth was the plaintiff in a Title IX case alleging sexual harassment from the coaching staff and a cover up by the administration. However, Nemeth wasn’t the only player on record as having complaints against Corey Myers. Former players Blaire Bass, Haley Fagan, Whitney Jordan and Emily Spain have had specific complaints against the coaching staff. 

My issue here is that ESPN used a lot of quotes and history out of context to paint this program very negatively and without much basis. 

“We said that if she gets on, we’re staying off,” Fagan said. “It was a team decision.” 

Here’s another one from from ESPN that appeared on AL.com:

“According to ESPN, five players said during that March 30 meeting Auburn executive associate athletic director and senior women’s administrator Meredith Jenkins told the players they were risking arrest for taking the text messages from their teammate’s phone and ordered them to delete the messages.”

These are important quotes that get glossed over. The articles cast the administration in a bad light over the “quarantine,” yet it was doing the right thing, considering that the player’s privacy had been breached. Corey Myers resigned just prior to a trip to Georgia. His resignation seems to have stemmed from the appearance of  texts between himself and the player in quesiton, said to be of an intimate nature. The players, including Fagan and All-American Kasey Cooper, refused to board the bus if “the player” was on it. In other words, it wasn’t Myers with whom they were displeased, but “the player.” So, at some point, there was no “us versus them” stance.

That’s important considering …


Haley Fagan reported that Corey Myers had already been forced to resign (temporarily) in 2016 due to similar problems, yet players were still “going to bat” for him before the trip to Georgia in 2017. 

The article also tries to relate Myers’ resignation with Fagan’s outburst towards Florida’s coach, Tim Walton. Yet the bad relationship between Fagan and Walton was well known and had virtually nothing to do with Myers’ resignation, other than timing. ESPNW appeared to use that incident in its story because it fits the narrative. 

Former player Whitney Jordan’s quote within the article is completely out of context as she quit the team for academic reasons. She was very vocal about her displeasure with the coaching staff, who told her that she could either miss a class she needed or quit the team. The senior chose the latter, though it was well known that she likely wouldn’t be on the team after she hit .118 in 2017 and was 4th on the team in errors despite not being a starter. After being replaced by Haley Fagan at shortstop, she was overtaken by freshman Alyssa Rivera in right field, who hit a team high .371. Even with Fagan’s graduation and a spot open at shortstop, Jordan had incoming freshman and top recruit Taylon Snow to contend with. 

Bass and Nemeth were cut from the team, and Spain is not currently on the roster after a decrease in playing time from 2016 to 2017 as she struggled to an .071 mark at the plate. In other words, none of the players in question are on the roster, and most of them were cut. 

The most important part of this all is the word “cover-up.” ESPN and AL.com alluded to a cover up by the administration. Although they have been hesitant to use that word, that’s exactly what they want to say. There are some questionable things to consider, for example, Jay Jacob’s contract extension for Clint Myers, which would have kept him in Auburn until 2023. Of course, that has now been refuted as Cassie Arner, associate athletic director for strategic communications, called the reports “categorically false.”  News sources have tried to use the contract extension to discredit the University’s stance that the situation was well known and understood. 

The truth is, Corey Myers likely had a problem, and Clint Myers likely knew it. Both were unofficially fired. There are some former players from Auburn who may or may not have legitimate gripes against the coaches, and it’s possible they had a bone to pick with the coaching staff. ESPN and other news agencies clumsily mixed these together to paint Auburn’s rising softball program in a very negative way, especially hinting at a cover up that could cost several more jobs, up to and including Athletic Director Jay Jacobs. 

As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts. Find me on Twitter @Best5Zach.

27 Comments

  1. Im4Auburn says:

    This is the first balanced article I’ve read about the situation. If Corey did it and if it was covered up there should be consequences. But I find it interesting that the ones making the allegations are former players who were “cut” from the team – just saying.

  2. Zach Taylor Zach Taylor says:

    Not only cut….but some cut two seasons ago.

    • stuntmanjohn4 stuntmanjohn4 says:

      I took my daughter to Athens for that Georgia game. After it was over I was confused why the players were not getting on the bus. My daughter wanted some pics but most of the team was nowhere to be found which I found odd. I guess now I know why. I had heard rumors about Corey thru people at camps but never thought to much about it. I’m not ready to place blame yet but if it’s true this paints a dark picture for Jay Jacobs.

  3. Tigerstripe Tigerstripe says:

    I don't understand in the day and age we live in that leadership at large universities seem to naively assume that grown adults will do what's best for young people without enough oversight… Haven't we seen enough hazing, sexual harassment, title IX issues, racism, drugs, violence coming out of the athletic departments nationally to find a way to stay out in front of these issues???
    There's too much at risk not to have more oversight and if you want to coach at this level, it needs to come with the territory. If I were the AD, I'd have a liaison directly under my office with an open door policy directly to me and this individual would be paid to sit in every locker room, every bus ride, every practice and report directly to me immediately about anything suspicious. To find out this has been going on for years with multiple ladies and now the coach is covering up for the son…bad form.

    • neonbets says:

      Racism by collegiate ADs. That shouldn’t be tolerated. I don’t believe I’ve seen this from Auburn, but maybe I’ve missed something. Are you asserting Auburn’s athletic department has been racist? Also, what incidents have happened for there to be all this racism at college athletic departments?

      • Tigerstripe Tigerstripe says:

        “athletic departments nationally”… I was just speaking generically about programs across the nation, not Auburn specifically.

  4. admorganwde says:

    In reading the ESPNW article how did you conclude that the player having the text exchange with Corey Myers and that the players didn’t want to board the bus with was Nemeth?

  5. uglyjoe says:

    Seems to me seems to me if coach knew about his sons actions and did nothing then he’s got a problem. Seems to me if Jacobs knew about coaches actions and didn’t do anything then Jacobs has a problem. All this is regardless of whether the girls supported coach or not. While I’m not happy to type this, I think this may be the end of Jacobs.

    • Zach Taylor Zach Taylor says:

      My wife agrees. It’s certainly possible. Personally, I do believe Corey Myers had a problem. I do believe that Clint Myers likely had an idea about his son. Can I blame him for looking the other way? I don’t know. It’s easy to toss rocks, but it is his son.

      Do I believe there was a coverup? Not really, but I am willing to wait and see.

      Again, the point of the article here is, let’s not bury a program before the truth is known. It’s extremely premature right now and it’s very irresponsible of ESPN to have said all this.

  6. Zach Taylor Zach Taylor says:

    The article says " the refusal of several members of the team, including Fagan and 2016 All-American Kasey Cooper, to board the bus to Athens in the company of the player who allegedly exchanged text messages with Corey Myers."

    By saying THE PLAYER, the article is saying that only one player is known to have exchanged texts. Since the article goes on to name Nemeth as the focal point of the story, we are led to believe it's her.

    Is it possible this is incorrect? Absolutely. And I wouldn't doubt it for a second.

    It would just continue to prove my point that ESPN used a lot of quotes and history in a haphazard way to push the agenda of the story.

  7. admorganwde says:

    Am I missing the part of the article that says Nemeth exchanged texts with Corey Myers?

    • Zach Taylor Zach Taylor says:

      After talking to some folks, I agree that it is possible that it wasn't Nemeth that players refused to "get on the bus" with nor was it her who had the screen shots taken from and as respect to her, I edited it accordingly.

  8. AU9312 says:

    As someone who cautions objectiveness, your article seems to lack any. First of all, Nemeth’s role in this scandal is totally misstated in the article. She was not at the source of Florida bus fiasco. And clearly the players did have problems with Corey Myers, or they would not have filed numerous complaints regarding him, as early as September of 2016.

    While it’s very hard to read some of the things being said about a successful program and a successful coach, it’s foolish to disregard the statements of four former players, solely because they weren’t elite performers on the team. They had first hand knowledge of everything that went down with Clint and Corey Myers.

    And as for a potential cover-up, a cover-up was created the second Assistant AD Meredith Jenkins forced players to delete the inflammatory text messages. AU’s unwillingness to comply with multiple FOIA requests in regards to the investigations would imply something similar.

    Believe me when I say this, I love Auburn and Auburn Athletics. But the information coming from multiple news outlets about the softball program and the Auburn Athletic Department makes it very clear that terrible mistakes happened and changes must be made to ensure this will never and can never happen again.

    • Zach Taylor Zach Taylor says:

      I’ve edited the article accordingly. To me, this now separates her case from the events in question, specifically any texts or screenshots or bus fiascoes. I don’t think it changes anything.

      Hope this is clarifies things.

      • AU9312 says:

        Ok but there are still issues in regards to the coverup and the quotes from former players. How does Meredith Jenkins rounding up players and “quarantining” them to force them to delete the texts not reek of a coverup? To me, that’s a textbook case. And I still think it’s irresponsible to just ignore quotes from multiple former players because they weren’t key players on the field. And to that note, what about Haley Fagan? She was a key member of AU’s team last year and still felt the responsibility to speak out against Corey, Clint and Scott Woodard for their roles in the scandal.

        • Zach Taylor Zach Taylor says:

          Time will tell if Meredith was doing this because it was the correct action because of a violation of privacy (players illegally took info from a teammate against her will) or whether it was a ploy to delete evidence or a combination of both. It’s entirely possible that Meredith LEGALLY destroyed evidence. Who knows? That might have been the plan all along.

          There’s a very, very fine line there. We are always quick to forget that the right thing to do may not also be legal. Like it or not, that’s how the justice system works.

          Again, a lot of people are being defensive here and all I’m saying is this: The Myers are gone and it sounds like good riddance to me. Let’s pump the breaks on a cover up until we know because it could mean very, very bad things.

          In today’s climate, an article like this sways public opinion before any real evidence is known. By the time the real story emerges, all the steps are already taken.

          • multipurposepaper says:

            We already know there was a cover-up.

            “According to Cassie Arner, associate athletic director for strategic communications, Auburn launched its investigation last September after several players filed anonymous ethics complaints about the alleged behavior of Corey Myers, the team’s associate head coach and Clint Myers’ youngest son. That led to Corey Myers’ two-week leave of absence from the team. Arner said Sunday that the investigation has ‘been a continuous process.'”

            Jacobs repeatedly denied such an investigation existed.

            “A statement released by the school on Sunday in response to the ESPN report said: ‘As a university that cares deeply about our student-athletes, we have taken this seriously since the first concerns were raised. … Once the facts were established, changes to the staff quickly followed.'”

            The two staff changes were unabashedly called resignations which, at least in the case of Corey, was a lie.

            This is the very definition of a cover up.

  9. AUTiger57 says:

    Such a sad state of affairs for our softball program and the gifted young women who chose Auburn. Sure hope this doesn’t demolish our progress, but im afraid that’s too late. Zach, what names, if any would Auburn try to hire away from someplace else?? It has to be a phenomenal hire. Someone who can coach, recruit, and especially now, someone who is a healer of wounds , and can fix the current fiasco. My heart bleeds for these young ladies. They didnt deserve this. I am one of those that believes that Jay J won’t survive this. Especially if there were hidden motives involved. Plus we’re still not convinced how long Gus will make it. Another of Jacobs’s hires. What’s your thoughts? War Eagle

  10. multipurposepaper says:

    You ignore three important pieces of information.

    1. Fagan and other players submitting ethics complaints that resulted in Corey’s dismissal in September 2016 following an internal investigation.

    2. Jacobs’ lie in April following Corey’s second dismissal where he doubles down on the false narrative that Corey resigned to spend more time with his family.

    3. Jacobs’ lie in April that there was no investigation relative to the softball team.

    An AU athletics representative termed Jacobs’ statements as “unfortunate” while admitting they were untrue late Sunday, confirming that those comments were misleading.

    When the the leader of the athletic department lies so boldly and repeatedly he no longer deserves the benefit of the doubt. The players and former players who have gone on the record to share their stories have nothing to gain by doing so. They have earned the right to be believed at this point.

    • Zach Taylor Zach Taylor says:

      I’m not so quick to call them lies and I understand why it may bother people. I just don’t see why people expect Jacobs to come out and say, “he was having an affair with a player or players.”

      It’s not a lie to say he was going to spend time with his family. In fact, that’s probably the truest statement said by anyone at anytime.

      Again, don’t be so quick to judge my stance. This country has a very, very hard time judging with their hearts and judging too quickly.

      I’ve said it time and time again. I’m no Jacobs fan and if it’s what it smells like, good riddance to them all. But right now there are no facts. Just hearsay.

      And, honestly, regardless of how it comes out, true or untrue, the fact that Jacobs hires have been nothing but trouble should be enough.

      • stuntmanjohn4 stuntmanjohn4 says:

        Did you happen to catch the interview with the former player yet.

      • Hobbes says:

        “I’m not so quick to call them lies and I understand why it may bother people. I just don’t see why people expect Jacobs to come out and say, ‘he was having an affair with a player or players.'”

        I am not sure why anyone would expect Jay to tell the truth either.

  11. Randyc37 Randyc37 says:

    Zach, You are brave to write about this topic. I did like your article. I too am close to the Auburn Softball program and I want this situation to be corrected as soon as possible. I do have my own ideas about what happened, but I feel that the investigation will reveal the facts and Auburn can concentrate on hiring a good coaching staff and move on to the next season.

  12. multipurposepaper says:

    At least one was, without question, a lie. He knew there was an investigation into the softball program and said flat out there wasn’t.

    There are a lot of facts, Jacobs statements refuted by Arner’s statements reveal some of them. The fact that Corey Myers was disciplined, reinstated, then fired is a fact. That there is a comprehensive review of the softball program underway is a fact. There are, indeed, specific allegations and administration responses that are the subject of inquiry and dispute. However what is no longer in dispute is that several players lodged complaints about Corey and Clint for months and that those complaints centered around Corey having inappropriate relationships with players. It is also no longer in dispute that members of the administration denied that any review or investigation of those complaints was taking place.

    And Judgement is not the same as drawing conclusions. I’ve passed no judgement of the kind to which you allude. However, when my daughter lies, I will let her know that she has done wrong and that there are consequences. That is not judging.

  13. sparkey sparkey says:

    Outstanding article written here and discussion! Mad props!