Current Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp has been accused of paying a player while serving as defensive coordinator of the Auburn Tigers, according to a report released Wednesday evening by Selena Roberts of Roopstigo.com.
Auburn’s Tainted Title: Victims, Violations and Vendettas for Glory is a detailed look at rampant corruption that has allegedly been occurring at Auburn. Allegations range from academic fraud and payments to players to special treatment both from local police and the university’s internal drug testers, though much of the story is uncorroborated.
Within the report, former Tigers safety Mike McNeil alleges that, following a tough practice in 2007, he was sent for by Muschamp and slipped a payment.
McNeil recalls having a difficult day at practice in 2007 and then-defensive coordinator, Will Muschamp, calling him into his office. “I had no clue what it was about because I’d never directly asked him for anything,” says McNeil. “He slid about $400 over to me. He went into a drawer and gave me money and said, ‘Is this enough? Is this good?’ And I said, ‘Yeah, I’m good.’” Muschamp, now the head football coach at the University of Florida, denied the payment through a spokesperson.
McNeil is currently awaiting trial on charges of armed robbery.
Muschamp served as defensive coordinator at Auburn from 2006-07 but resigned on Jan. 4, 2008 to accept the same position with Texas. He turned down a raise offered by the Tigers for the position with the Longorns, one that made him the highest paid assistant coach in the Big 12 at the time. Near the conclusion of his first season with Texas, Muschamp was anointed “coach in waiting” behind Mack Brown and had his salary doubled. He took over as head coach of the Gators in 2011.
Though Florida sent over a denial as part of Roberts’s report, the University Athletic Association may be issuing a separate statement at some point soon as this story begins to pick up steam across the college sports landscape.
Roberts previously worked at the New York Times and Sports Illustrated and was the lead writer of the 2009 report that exposed numerous MLB steroid users including prominant New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez.
UPDATE I – 9:45 p.m.: Since the report was published, three of the players quoted within the piece have denied that parts of the story are true. “Man this article is outrageous and isn’t true. The media will do anything for a juicy story smh #sad,” tweeted Mike Blanc, McNeil’s former roommate. “The one thing that is quoted by me is what I said, no more no less..END OF STORY,” wrote Daren Bates on his Twitter account. Neiko Thorpe was even more matter-of-fact. “While I spoke to Selena Roberts about Mike I have just read her article & not only am I misquoted but my words are very out of…context. We didn’t talk about NCAA violations or recruiting. I’m proud 2 have played at Auburn & the opportunities it gave me,” he tweeted.
UPDATE II – 11:45 p.m.: Muschamp, through a school spokesman, denied the allegation levied against him once again, this time to AL.com. No quote was provided.
UPDATE III – April 4, 1:30 p.m.: On Thursday, Muschamp issued a denial directly to The Gainesville Sun. “Totally deny it,” he said. “I don’t know where this is coming from.”