Auburn Payroll: Tens of Thousands To Hostesses

A recent financial audit by Sports by Brooks of payments made by Auburn University to student football recruiting hostesses since late 2009 revealed that the state-funded institution paid out tens of thousands of dollars to the student “Tigerettes” charged with escorting football players during recruiting visits to the school.

Auburn pays recruiting hostesses tens of thousands of dollars in past two years

A Jan. 28, 2011, article in the AUBURN PLAINSMAN detailed the background of the longstanding, school-sponsored group:

The Tigerettes got their start in the late 1970s during former football head coach Doug Barfield’s tenure.

At first, the program used local high school seniors and Auburn freshman as guides for prospects, but as the program expanded, interviews and training processes were added, and participation in the program was limited to female Auburn students, at which point they became known as the Tigerettes.

The program further expanded once former coach Pat Dye came to Auburn.

“We used more of them because he brought in large numbers of recruits, trying to build the program back up” said Sue Locklar, on-campus recruiting coordinator. “We started going through a very hard selection process.”

Locklar said there are typically between 400–500 applicants who go through the selection process.

Those selected undergo in-depth training seminars about football, the football program and the coaching staff.

Males were added to the group as “Tiger” hosts in 1992 but the demographic makeup of the Auburn football recruiting organization remains almost entirely female.

Auburn pays recruiting hostesses tens of thousands of dollars in past two years

According to employee payroll data available to the public on the official Auburn University website, 21 Tigerettes were paid $78,044.26 between Oct. 2, 2009, and May 31, 2011. Five male “Tiger” hosts were paid $6,880.19 during the same period. (The 27 school employees are currently listed as “2010-2011″ officers and members of the organizaton on the Tigerettes official website.)

Here is a sampling of Auburn students who have been paid by the school as “Tigerettes”:

Jamie Nolen (female): $12,840.48 (since 3/19/2010)
Emily Jenkins: $8,415.49 (since 2/19/2010)
Jordan Poitevint (female): $7.547.25 (since 3/5/2010)
Dominique Neville (female): $6,521.45 (since 10/2/2009)
Morgan Stewart (female): $4,132.50 (since 9/3/2010)

All tolled, Auburn has paid out $84,924.45  to student football recruiting hostesses and hosts since Oct. 2, 2009.

Auburn pays recruiting hostesses tens of thousands of dollars in past two years

So what does Auburn get for that money? In late 2009 Simpson Fletcher of the AUBURN PLAINSMAN reported:

(Dominique) Neville’s duties as president of the group include serving primarily as the liaison between Auburn University Athletic Department administrators and the organization, daily hostings of prospective students and prospective student-athletes, providing clerical and administrative support for the athletic department, and serving at various athletic department functions.

In the same article, Fletcher reported of a student Tigerette named Audra Brawley:

Audra Brawley, a sophomore Tigerette in biomedical sciences, said the main duties of Tigerettes and Tiger Hosts are recruiting the best young men to become Auburn football players, aiding the coaches, helping the secretaries in the office with mail outs to prospective players and working with the athletic department in recruiting students.

“I absolutely love Auburn football because I grew up watching it every Saturday in the fall with my dad,” Brawley said. “He has three daughters and turned me into his makeshift son. We would come to games and see the girls with recruits, and I knew how much impact they had on the future of Auburn football. I wanted to be them so I could impact Auburn football too.”

The Jan. 28, 2011, Plainsman piece on Tigerettes also mentioned Auburn football recruiting hostess Jamie Nolen:

Jamie Nolen, senior in public relations and third-year Tigerette, said her friends give her a hard time because she doesn’t come home enough.

“I love it so much, so I’ll be up here until three o’clock in the morning if I need to get something right. I’ll put in extra time,” Nolen said. “Pretty much the only time we were at home this weekend was to put our pajamas on and go to bed.”

Since March 19, 2010, Auburn has paid Nolen $12,840.48 for her work as a Tigerette football recruiting hostess.

Part of Nolen’s official duties as a Auburn football recruiting hostess apparently include tracking prospective Auburn football players on Facebook.

Greg Robinson, a highly-recruited lineman from Thibodaux, La., who signed with Auburn last February recently noted in a Facebook entry dated May 28, 2011, that he was moving to Auburn for the summer.

The next entry on Robinson’s public Facebook page timeline was the Auburn recruit adding Nolen as a “friend”.

Jamie Nolen: Tigerette Paid Thousands

In a Jan. 8, 2011, report on FOXSports.com, Thayer Evans wrote of Robinson’s recruitment by Auburn:

Former Thibodaux High coach Dennis Lorio says several coaches and students saw Robinson show off cash and a new iPhone at school after a visit to Auburn. Robinson wrote in a Facebook message in July that he got the phone when “I came to Alabama.”

… “How did players from Thibodaux, La., become so interested in Auburn?” Lorio asks. “That’s a really good question. (Auburn Assistant Coach) Trooper Taylor and (NCAA-targeted Robinson associate) Sean Nelson would know.”

… Nelson drove Robinson to Auburn for unofficial visits — two of them, both say. Nelson says he didn’t approach Robinson about taking the trips but let Robinson ride along on trips Nelson already had planned. Robinson says he told Taylor he wanted to visit the school, and Taylor called Nelson to see if Robinson could ride with him. 

A crosscheck of Scout.com articles about Robinson revealed that between late May, 2010 and Feb. 2., 2011 (signing day), Robinson reportedly took six visits to Auburn. Five of those visits were of the unofficial variety.

On Feb. 16, 2011, Sports by Brooks reported:

Monday NCAA investigators descended on Thibodaux, Louisiana, to meet individually with Auburn football recruit Greg Robinson, Robinson’s mother Lydia, Robinson associate Sean Nelson and Robinson’s former Thibodaux High School Coach Dennis Lorio.

Here is a list of all of the checks reported by Auburn University’s official website to Nolen:

Jamie Nolen: Tigerette Paid Thousands

In addition to Nolen, Robinson is confirmed Facebook friends with multiple other Tigerettes, including Morgan Stewart ($4,132.50), Hillarie Deen ($4.377.00), Adrianne Redding ($3,610.50) and Jordan Bocage ($3,367.63).

Follow Brooks on Twitter and join him on Facebook for more about this and other stories. 

New ‘Clients’ For NCAA Target With Auburn Ties?

On Feb. 16 I broke the news that NCAA officials had recently visited Thibodaux, Louisiana, to investigate the recruitment of a current Auburn football player, Trovon Reed, and a recent football signee to the school, Greg Robinson.

Willie Lyles, Lache Seastrunk, Sean Nelson Facebook Photo

At the heart of that NCAA investigation was Thibodaux resident Sean Nelson. Nelson, who is an associate of Reed and Robinson, has been characterized as a street agent who exerted possible undue influence on the two recruits in their decision to choose Auburn. Nelson is also a known associate of the NCAA’s current public enemy #1, Will Lyles. Lyles’ one-man “recruiting service” was recently paid $25,000 by the University of Oregon for recruiting videos that the school has yet to produce to the public.

LSU also recently admitted it paid Lyles $6,500 last December with the school having since confirmed it will discontinue its relationship with him.

Like Nelson, Lyles has been characterized as a street agent who may have contributed to Texas high school football recruit Lache Seastrunk choosing Oregon. Wednesday ESPN reported that Lyles has also now been accused by current Tulsa assistant football coach Van Malone of soliciting $80,000 in 2007 for the football services of then-Florida high school recruit Patrick Peterson when Malone was an assistant coach at Texas A&M.

Since the initial allegations about Lyles broke regarding the exorbitant payment from Oregon to a single-person business entity created just months before coach Chip Kelly cut the check, Lyles has effectively gone into hiding from the media.

Nelson though is a different story, as I found out today.

Willie Lyles, Lache Seastrunk, Sean Nelson Facebook Photo

Even after the national notoriety now heaped on Lyles, which has placed the Oregon and LSU football programs in possible NCAA jeopardy, Nelson continues to display the above photo of himself, Lyles and Seastrunk on his Facebook page. (In 2009 Reed and Seastrunk together paid multiple visits to various prospective schools, including Auburn, with Lyles and Nelson in tow.)

Somehow worse though is the party promo flyer posted on Nelson’s same Facebook page - as his profile photo no less - for an April 8 shindig at a Thibodaux establishment. The advertisement touts the soiree as a “pre-prom party for Greg Robinson, Cartel Murray, Josh Johnson, Raheem Richard & Jarranisha Allen.

Sean Nelson Party Flyer

Robinson is the recent Auburn signee who was interviewed a little over a month ago by the NCAA about his recruitment to Auburn and his relationship with Nelson. Murray, Johnson and Richard are former teammates of Robinson and Reed at Thiboudaux high school with all considered legitimate college football prospects.

Underneath the party flyer posted on his Facebook page, Nelson wrote this note to current Thibodaux high school football player A.J. Bolden after Bolden lamented that he wouldn’t be part of the festivities:

no doubt u is part of it. when i was tryna get in touch wit u i had ur old number. finally i got ur number from neak but flyer was made. kampus smakk and dee daw performing and not on flyer. is gon be crazy

Sounds a lot like Nelson is throwing the party himself, no?
Read more…

Aukward Audio: Chizik Asked About NCAA Inquiry

In the wake of my Wednesday report that confirmed NCAA investigators were in Thibodaux, Louisiana, Monday to investigate Auburn’s recruiting tactics of two former Thiboudaux High School players, Auburn football coach Gene Chizik was asked during an appearance on WJOX-FM in Birmingham on Friday if Auburn had received a Preliminary Letter of Inquiry (PLOI) from the NCAA.

Sean Nelson and Gene Chizik

(NCAA investigating Thibodaux’s Sean Nelson about role with Auburn recruits)

WJOX-FM’s Al DelGreco: “There’s a lot of speculation going on around Thibodaux, Louisiana, and some recruiting stuff down there, but apparently there has been no official letter of inquiry sent to Auburn. Is there any way you can clarify any of that information for us? Where that stands?Read more…

NCAA-Targeted Coach Opens Up About Auburn

Today I was sent a statement written by Thibodaux High School football coach Dennis Lorio - which through an NCAA official I have confirmed was indeed authored by Lorio.

NCAA investigating Auburn player recruitment in Thibodaux Louisiana

Lorio was one of four individuals who I reported Wednesday were interviewed in Thibodaux, Louisiana, on Monday by NCAA investigators about Auburn’s football recruiting tactics.

Here is the completely unedited statement from Lorio:

There have some questions lately about events of the recent year. I would like to clarify what facts I am aware of. Sometimes media members take information and try to paint a picture which may or may not be accurate. They only provide the information they want the reader to see. The points I believe were most crucial are below. Read more…

NCAA Questions Four In Louisiana About Auburn

Monday NCAA investigators descended on Thibodaux, Louisiana, to meet individually with Auburn football recruit Greg Robinson, Robinson’s mother Lydia, Robinson associate Sean Nelson and Robinson’s former Thibodaux High School Coach Dennis Lorio.

NCAA investigating Auburn player recruitment in Thibodaux Louisiana

At issue in those meetings was Robinson’s recruitment by Auburn, which raised red flags after an investigative piece by Thayer Evans at FOXSports.com in early January.

In a private meeting held at Thibodaux high school on Monday, Lorio met with an NCAA investigator and a Thibodaux high school official.

During the meeting Lorio was asked by an NCAA investigator about Auburn’s recruitment of former Thibodaux high school players Trovon Reed and Robinson. More specificially, Lorio was asked about the role Nelson played in the recruitment of both players and the nature of Nelson’s relationship with the Auburn coaching staff. Read more…