Auburn Openly Mocks NCAA President - In Writing

On March 31, 2011, while speaking to the media at the Final Four in Houston, NCAA President Mark Emmert promised the public that he would not hesitate to implement “sufficient deterrents” to prevent schools from knowingly breaking NCAA rules.


Emmert:

“If our penalties and processes aren’t providing sufficient deterrents, then I need to sit down with the board of Division I and others and fix that and make sure that our penalty structure and our enforcement processes serve as a deterrent so people conduct themselves with integrity and forthrightness.”

Monday Auburn released details of Gene Chizik’s new contract extension.

Besides the length of the deal and an increase in compensation, there were no notable changes to the original Chizik contract consumated between the parties in 2008.

Except one.

Paragraph 13 (d) of Chizik’s 2008 contract included a clause that would relieve Auburn from any financial obligation to the coach if the school’s football program was subject to NCAA investigation. From the 2008 contract Chizik signed:

In the event an investigation is instituted by Auburn, the SEC or the NCAA into alleged major rules violations or significant or repetitive violations involving Coach and/or the football program, during the pendency of the investigation, University shall have the right, after written notice to Coach, to suspend payment of any amount owed to Coach under Paragraph 15 or 16.

As noted by Jon Soloman of the BIRMINGHAM NEWS, of Chizik’s $3.5 million salary, $3 million comes from personal appearances, endorsements and media rights - which are detailed in Paragraph 15 and 16 of the coach’s contract.

Auburn deletes NCAA investigation clause in Gene Chizik's contract

For Chizik’s new agreement with the school, Paragraph 13 (d) was completely deleted and replaced with this clause:

Coach agrees he will comply with Southeastern Conference Rules and be bound by and comply with the enforcement, penalty, and other disciplinary provisions and procedures of the NCAA and of the Southeastern Conference, including but not limited to the provisions of Article 4 of the Southeastern Conference Constitution and the Southeastern Conference Bylaw 19.8.

The new clause is a boiler plate statement designed to keep up appearances while completely all Chizik accountability to NCAA rules violations.

Auburn deletes NCAA investigation clause in Gene Chizik's contract

Three months earlier, NCAA President Emmert said at the Final Four press conference:

“We cannot have coaches, administrators, parents or student-athletes sitting out there deciding, ‘Is this worth the risk? If I conduct myself in this fashion, and if I get caught, it’s still worth the risk.’ We don’t want those kind of cost benefit analyses going on.”

With Auburn recently bankrupting Chizik’s contractual obligation to NCAA rules, it’s impossible to come to any other conclusion than NCAA President Emmert’s public proclamations mean nothing to at least one NCAA member institution.

Perhaps Auburn’s attitude has something to do with Emmert confirming a NCAA violation committed by Cecil Newton, then clearing Cam Newton’s route to the two highest college football honors an NCAA student-athlete can attain.

On March 31, Emmert also said:

We have to hold everybody in the enterprise accountable, whether they’re administrators, coaches, ADs, players or parents, anybody involved. Coaches are no different than anyone else in that process.

Coaches in collegiate sport have a different role than coaches in professional sport. Again, by definition these are student-athletes. So a coach is not just a coach, they’re also a mentor and a teacher. That brings with it responsibilities that are different than being an NBA coach or an NFL coach.

On Jan. 30, 2011, Kevin Scarbinsky of the BIRMINGHAM NEWS profiled Auburn Associate Athletic Director Tim Jackson.

Excerpt from the profile:

In a rare interview in his office Thursday, Jackson said the leadership of Auburn football breaks down like that of an NFL franchise. “Jay Jacobs is the owner. Gene’s the head coach. I’m the general manager.”

Chizik said their management structure “is probably unique in college football. This may not work for everybody else. It works for us. Everybody is on the same page.”

It works because Chizik and Jackson have a unique bond and level of trust for a coach and administrator, especially at Auburn, where the last two head coaches, Terry Bowden and Tommy Tuberville, seemed at constant odds with “the suits.”

As I noted here on Jan. 30, while Jackson’s role as “general manager” of the Auburn football team is detailed in the News profile, his primary job at Auburn goes went unmentioned.

Tim Jackson General Manager of Auburn Football

Jackson is the executive director of the private fundraising arm for Auburn Athletics called “Tigers Unlimited.”

Jackson controls the purse strings of the multi-million organization, which funds much of the operation of the Auburn Athletic Department and pays the majority of Chizik’s salary.

Before Jackson took over, current Auburn Athletic Director Jay Jacobs was entrusted with the same role.

We’ve officially reached the point where I’m ready to hold NCAA member schools blameless thanks to, literally, 100 years of do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do NCAA rules governance.

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Chizik Video: “Being Great Is Really Expensive”

Here’s a short ESPNU clip featuring Auburn football coach Gene Chizik after his team’s recent spring football game.


Chizik to the Auburn players: “Being great is what?
Auburn players: “Expensive
Chizik to Auburn players: “Being great is what?
Auburn players: “Expensive
Chizik to Auburn players: “Gonna cost you a lot, gonna cost you a lot. But we can get there. Saw a lot of good flashes of some things that happened, today. But being great is really expensive.”

Hearing that, I can’t help but think back to this excerpt from a profile of Auburn Executive Associate Athletics Director Tim Jackson authored by Kevin Scarbinsky and published in the BIRMINGHAM NEWS two months ago: Read more…

Video: Chizik Booed At NASCAR Talladega Race

Three weeks ago I noted that Sunday’s NASCAR Aaron Rents 499 at Talladega would feature Michael Waltrip driving an Auburn-themed entry. The AU paint-schemed car was part of a Talladega salute to the BCS Champion Auburn football team.


Also present for the festivities yesterday was Auburn football coach Gene Chizik, who served as the race’s Grand Marshal.

So how’d NASCAR fans react when Chizik was introduced before the race?

Hint: The pre-race invocation was punctuated by a “roll tide!

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Auburn Writer’s Allegations Betrayed By The Truth

Today the Publisher of Auburn Rivals site AuburnSports.com, Jeffrey Lee, leveled allegations on Mobile radio station WNSP - and the message board of his own site - of possible recruiting impropriety involving a recent signee of another school’s football program.


(Above: Excerpts of Lee’s allegations on WNSP-AM in Mobile)

The allegations concerned extra benefits provided to the player by a person Lee characterized on WNSP-AM this morning as “a guy who is very, very involved with the athletics department” at a rival school. Though Lee was explicit throughout the radio interview in reiterating that the alleged benefactor was not a booster of the school but a “supporter.”Lee on WNSP:

It’s not a booster, it’s not an alumni of [rival school] but it’s a guy who is very, very involved with the athletics department up there. He’s taken [accused recruit] to [school city] several times before.

Allegations are out there that he has made cash payments to [accused recruit’s father].

That’s just one of what was a litany of serious and oft-specific allegations made today by Lee against the rival school “supporter”, who the AuburnSports.com reporter later called “a big fan, who is extremely involved I guess you could say in [rival school] football.” Read more…

Auburn Declined Comment To ‘One-Sided’ HBO

Wednesday evening Gene Chizik criticized HBO for its production of a recent Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel show segment examining the ethics of college football.

Gene Chizik

In the HBO piece hosted by Andrea Kremer, four former Auburn football players made multiple allegations of activities at the school that would be considered NCAA violations.

In his remarks to the media on the same day the HBO special premiered, Chizik said he felt the presentation was one-sided:

“What’s disturbing to me is they interviewed other former Auburn football players that had exactly the opposite to say but somehow or another that failed to make the air. Unless I missed that section.”

Today a source familiar with the HBO production told me that the four ex-Auburn players who appeared on the show were the only former Auburn players who were interviewed by HBO on-camera.

Later during his Wednesday press conference, a reporter asked Chizik: 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…

Video: Chizik “Auburn” Drinking Game Dries Up

On Jan. 31 I posted a quote from Auburn Athletics’ chief fundraiser Tim Jackson to Kevin Scarbinksy of the BIRMINGHAM NEWS.

Gene Chizik and Tim Jackson on the same page

Here’s an excerpt from Scarbinskys’ story which contains the Jackson quote and an accompanying remark from Auburn Head Football Coach Gene Chizik affirming Jackson’s statement:

In a rare interview in his office Thursday, Jackson said the leadership of Auburn football breaks down like that of an NFL franchise. “Jay Jacobs is the owner. Gene’s the head coach. I’m the general manager.”

Chizik said their management structure “is probably unique in college football. This may not work for everybody else. It works for us. Everybody is on the same page.”

Two weeks before Jackson compared Auburn University’s football program to an NFL franchise, Auburn University Head Football Coach Gene Chizik gave an interview to FOX Sports Houston’s Bart Enis after Chizik won college football’s Bear Bryant Coach of the Year Award.

Here’s Chizik’s first comment when reflecting on winning the award: Read more…

A New Lowder: Forthright Reformed A.U. Devotee?

A reader recently sent me this photo of Auburn booster Bobby Lowder at the BCS Championship Game in Glendale:

Photo: Bobby Lowder at BCS Championship Game

(Hidden message in headline? Why, I had no idea)

My receipt of said image was only upon our mutual agreement that I’d post the photo after the game.

Seeing Lowder luxuriating in his proudest moment as an alumnus of Auburn got me to thinking about his much-rumored status at his alma mater.

The 30-year AU Trustee, who to this day oversees the entire Auburn University budget each year, once presided over a sprawling, Alabama-based financial empire. But that all changed in 2009, when the money center Lowder founded himself, Colonial Bank, crashed and burned, resulting in the sixth-largest bank failure in United States history.

Before his colossal business failure, which still includes a slew of legal issues that aren’t going away anytime soon, Lowder was generally regarded as the most powerful major college football booster in the country. After all, Lowder controlled a billion-dollar banking concern while simultaneously being personally entrusted the entire Auburn school budget.

But with his business career in ashes, most recently the media has begun reporting the seeming demise of Lowder’s influence at Auburn.

Bobby Lowder

(Could a booster actually run an SEC school’s entire budget? Ask Bobby.)

Most prominent of those effective eulogies was a piece by Pete Thamel of the NEW YORK TIMES. Published two days before the BCS Championship Game, the article was titled, “Auburn’s Kingmaker Isn’t Sharing in the Moment.”

Excerpts:

If No. 1 Auburn defeats No. 2 Oregon on Monday night for its first national football championship since 1957, it should be a crowning moment for Lowder. But some say his power has dwindled since his actions in 2003 helped land Auburn on academic probation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, a regional accreditation agency.

… Lowder’s power has waned since the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools threatened to strip Auburn of its accreditation, citing the meddlesome trustees and their interlocking ties to Lowder as a reason for probation.

Lowder’s efforts to oust (former head football coach Tommy) Tuberville as coach failed, though Tuberville was fired after the 2008 season and replaced by Gene Chizik, his former defensive coordinator.

Thamel and his sources are not alone in their claims of erosion of Lowder’s power base. But in accounting for actual events at Auburn in recent years, there appears to be no such indication that the booster is going the way of the brontosaurus.

After the Colonial meltdown, Lowder moved from his longtime residence in Montgomery to a fulltime Auburn abode.

Since the aforementioned kerfuffle with the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools during the mid-2000s, Lowder has presided over the promotion of his personal protege, Jay Jacobs, to Auburn Athletic Director. Jacobs had been previously charged with overseeing the private “Tigers Unlimited” fundraising arm over which Lowder has long had ultimate control.

Speaking of Tigers Unlimited, Jacobs’ replacement as executive director of the organization,Tim Jackson, was noted in the BIRMINGHAM NEWS Sunday for his wide-ranging influence within the Auburn football program.

Then there’s the hiring of head football coach Gene Chizik, who was tapped to take over one of the country’s most prestigious football programs despite a career coaching record of 5-19. Chizik’s hire was met with violent opposition by the Auburn fanbase, with AD Jacobs hounded in public by hecklers aiming to humiliate him for making such a move.

As you might expect, the Chizik hire left everyone in the college football world wondering why Auburn would hire someone with a 5-19 career coaching record. Read more…

Auburn Fundraiser: Football Like “NFL Franchise”

Sunday Kevin Scarbinsky of the BIRMINGHAM NEWS profiled Tim Jackson, “the No. 2 man in the Auburn athletics department behind AD Jay Jacobs.

Tim Jackson General Manager of Auburn Football

Scarbinsky noted Jackson’s considerable influence on the football program:

Jackson said director of football relations Wayne Bolt jokingly called him “Steinbrenner,” a reference to the late owner of the New York Yankees, who was hands-on with his team to the point of suffocation at times.

Jackson is there at every Auburn football practice and every team meeting, often in a suit because he also attends senior staff meetings, but he’s more like Auburn’s general manager. That’s become his nickname among players and coaches alike: GM.

If you aren’t sure what “GM” stands for, Jackson explained the nickname to Scarbinsky:

In a rare interview in his office Thursday, Jackson said the leadership of Auburn football breaks down like that of an NFL franchise. “Jay Jacobs is the owner. Gene’s the head coach. I’m the general manager.”

Chizik said their management structure “is probably unique in college football. This may not work for everybody else. It works for us. Everybody is on the same page.”

It works because Chizik and Jackson have a unique bond and level of trust for a coach and administrator, especially at Auburn, where the last two head coaches, Terry Bowden and Tommy Tuberville, seemed at constant odds with “the suits.”

In the NFL, a team’s general manager is usually responsible for overseeing the football operation, which includes deciding the level of compensation afforded to players and coaches.

In his profile of Jackson, Scarbinsky reported, “Jacobs gave Jackson administrative oversight of the football program. Chizik didn’t just accept Jackson’s role. He embraced it and expanded it.

More: Read more…

AU Fails To Lose Talent Due To ‘Grade Changes’?

On December 27 I first noted Auburn head football coach Gene Chizik’s refusal to confirm his entire roster of players as academically eligible for the BCS Championship Game against Oregon on Jan. 10 in Arizona.

Gene Chizik on ESPN's Jim Rome is Burning

(Nearly month after AU semester ended, Chizik confirmed all players eligible)

Monday, all Auburn players on the current roster traveled to Arizona to continue prepping for the big game. After the team arrived in Phoenix, Chizik refused to address a reporter’s question about possible academic eligibility issues facing the team.

Tuesday at a press conference Chizik again was mum when asked if he would not have his full complement of players due to academics.

Finally, two weeks after publicly broaching the possibility that Auburn could face academic casualties for the BCS Championship Game, Chizik broke his silence on the subject.
Read more…