AUBURN, Ala. --- Two weeks ago when HBO Real Sports producers contacted The Herald looking for photos of former Westover and Auburn University football star Troy Reddick, it wasn't exactly clear what they needed the photos for.
Now it is.
Reddick, one of the most feared offensive and defensive stars to ever roam the sidelines in the Good Life City, was thrust back into the spotlight late Tuesday night after two years out of football following claims he received cash and improper benefits during his time with the Tigers from 2005-05. Reddick made the claims as part of a segment for HBO Real Sports, which is an award-winning investigative sports journalism program. The segment is set to air tonight at 10 p.m.
But Reddick wasn't alone in his claims.
Multiple news media outlets that received copies of the HBO Real Sports segment in advance of its airing reported late Tuesday night that nearly identical claims were also made by former Auburn players Chaz Ramsey (2007), Stanley McClover (04-05) and Raven Gray (2007, DNP due to injury).
The players --- who didn't limit the list of schools that were involved in "pay for play" schemes to just Auburn during their recruitment --- said they received everything from cash, to gifts to sexual favors during their recruitment, as well as money for single-game performances once they signed with the Tigers.
Auburn released a statement late Tuesday night denying any wrong doing and reminded that these were purely allegations.
A popular sports blog, SportsbyBrooks.com, first reported the story after transcribing the interview and posting dialogue between the four players and HBO Real Sports reporter Andrea Kremer.
At one point during his junior year, according to reports, word got out that Reddick was talking about leaving the school and transferring when an Auburn assistant told Reddick he had some mail for him.
"I followed him up to his office and he gave me an envelope," Reddick reportedly told HBO, adding that the envelope contained $500 and he later received "two or three" more payments that season and "six or seven" during his senior year.
SportsbyBrooks.com posted transcriptions of the rest of Reddick's conversation with Kremer --- beginning with details surrounding his recruitment to Auburn --- as such:
REDDICK: "I was contacted by a local alumni (of Auburn) and offered a large sum of money."
KREMER: "What are you thinking?"
REDDICK: "That people are trying to take advantage of me. And I can't give anybody any kind of power over me."
(Kremer voiceover: "(Reddick) says he didn't take the handout. ...)
Reddick then was asked why he had grown unhappy at Auburn and what coaches did to ensure happiness. SportsbyBrooks.com reported the conversation as such:
REDDICK: "I changed my major, so my classes didn't interfere no more but I didn't bother to go because I knew I was only there to play football."
KREMER: "So what did you do?"
REDDICK: "I started complaining and insinuating that I was ready to leave any day. They had to do something about that."
(Kremer voiceover: "The enticement to stay, Reddick says, became clear to him, when one of the coaches approached him after a team meeting.")
REDDICK: "He (Auburn coach) said I got some mail for you up in my office."
KREMER: "Some mail for you?"
REDDICK: "And I followed him up to his office and he gave me an envelope. I didn't open there, I walked out to my truck, took off. ... It was about 500 dollars."
KREMER: "500 dollars in the envelope?"
REDDICK: (nods yes)
KREMER: "How often did you get the money in the envelope?"
REDDICK: "Over that season it happened like two or three more times. And it happened about six or seven times my senior year."
KREMER: "So where do you think the money came from?"
REDDICK: "I think that worry got back to alumni from my hometown. Or it may have been the coaches or the staff but everybody knew I didn't want to be there."
A STAR FOR WESTOVER:
Reddick was a two-way starter in high school. As a defensive tackle, he finished with 50 tackles, 10 tackles for loss and three sacks as a senior with the Patriots. And on the offensive side of the ball, he did not allow a sack from his left guard position.
As a junior, he graded higher than 87 percent on offense and had 20 tackles, five sacks and three forced fumbles on defense, going on to be named an Atlanta Journal Constitution Georgia Top 50, Atlanta Journal Constitution Super Southern 100, SuperPrep Magazine All-Dixie Team and he was ranked as one of the Top 15 players in Georgia by SuperPrep Magazine. He was also rated as one of the top 30 offensive tackles in the nation by Rivals100.com and by Prep Star All-Southeast Region selection.
Once at Auburn, Reddick played strictly on the offensive line and started three games as a freshman and played in seven. Then as a sophomore, Reddick started at guard in all 13 games and as a junior he started all 13 games again, and was given an Associated Press All-SEC Honor Mention after that season.
After his time at Auburn, Reddick signed with the Chicago Bears in 2005 but was later cut. He then landed in arena football and played for the Dallas Desperados and the San Jose SaberCats, who he won an Arena League Championship with in 2007. He last played for the Arizona Rattlers before the arena league folded in 2009.
REDDICK NOT ALONE; OTHERS TELL SIMILAR TALE:
Ramsey, McClover and Gray were also highly decorated coming out of high school, and garnered attention from schools all over the country. McClover says it wasn't just Auburn and its coaches that were violating NCAA rules, but the "pay for play" scheme was prevalent everywhere he went.
"Somebody came to me, I don't even know this person and he was like, 'We would love for you to come to LSU and he gave me a handshake and it had five hundred dollars in there," McClover told Kremer, according to a portion of the transcript posted by SportsbyBrooks.com. "That's called a money handshake."
McClover said he also got money handshakes from Auburn, Michigan State and Ohio State, and was even provided sexual favors. After committing to Ohio State, he de-committed and went to Auburn, where he claims he asked for money to come play on The Plains. McClover said the cash was brought to him in a backpack.
According to the transcript posted by SportsbyBrooks.com, the conversation with Kremer surrounding the details of his recruitment was as such:
MCCLOVER: "Somebody came to me, I don't even know this person and he was like, 'we would love for you to come to LSU and he gave me a handshake and it had five hundred dollars in there. ... that's called a money handshake ... I grabbed it and I'm like, 'wow,' hell I thought ten dollars was a lot of money back then. Five hundred dollars for doing nothing but what I was blessed to do. I was happy."
KREMER: "What did you say to the guy when he hands you five hundred dollars?"
MCCLOVER: "Thank you and I'm seriously thinking about coming to LSU."
(Kremer voiceover: "But McClover says there were money handshakes from boosters at other football camps too. At Auburn for a couple hundred dollars and at Michigan State. All the schools denied any wrongdoing. And things really started heating up a few months later when he went to Ohio State for an official visit where schools get a chance for one weekend to host prospective athletes. McClover says there were money handshakes from alumni there too. About a thousand dollars. And something else to entice him.")
MCCLOVER: "They send girls my way. I partied. When I got there I met up with a couple guys from the team. We went to a party and they asked me to pick any girl I wanted."
KREMER: "Did she offer sexual services?"
KREMER: "Did you take them?"
When Kremer asked McClover about the backpack full of money he received to de-commit to Auburn, he responded, according to the transcript:
MCCLOVER: "I almost passed out. I literally almost passed out I couldn't believe it was true. I felt like I owed them."
KREMER: "You felt obligated to them (Auburn)?"
MCCLOVER: "I felt totally obligated."
KREMER: "Because of the money?"
(Kremer voiceover: "Stanley McClover says he was also paid while at school (Auburn). Paid by boosters. Like the time he had his eye on this 1973 Chevy Impala.")
MCCLOVER: "Private owner wanted seven thousand in cash so I went to my booster who I knew and he gave me the money the next day in a bookbag."
(Kremer voiceover: "McClover says eventually he didn't have to ask for money, as long as he played well, he'd get paid.")
KREMER: "How much was a sack worth?"
MCCLOVER: "Anywhere between 300 and 400 dollars. For one."
KREMER: "I think in one game you had four sacks, what did you earn in that game?"
MCCLOVER: "Four thousand. Against Alabama."
MCCLOVER: "Alabama, a rivalry game."
KREMER: "More money because it's Alabama?"
MCCLOVER: "Definitely. No other game matters."
In addition to Reddick's and McClover's claims, Ramsey and Gray were interviewed at the same time by Kremer, who got the duo to talk about being paid for their performance in single games.
SportsbyBrooks.com reported Kremer's conversation with the duo as such:
(Kremer voiceover: "Chaz Ramsey played for a year (for Auburn) in 2007, and says he too received money handshakes after games.")
RAMSEY: "You walk out and all the fans are waiting for you to sign autographs and everything and some random guy just walks up to you and shakes your hand and there's a wad full of money."
KREMER: "How much are we talking about?"
RAMSEY: "300 or 400 dollars a game."
(Kremer voiceover: "Raven Gray was a top (Auburn) recruit in 2007, he says people affiliated with Auburn would visit him at his junior college and press the flesh there too.")
KREMER: "How much do you think you got?"
GRAY: "Twenty five-hundred to three thousand dollars. Loyalty is the key. This man give me money I'm going to be loyal to him and go to Auburn."
(Kremer voiceover: "And he did go to Auburn but got injured before he ever played a game.")
Ramsey, who later sued the school and lost over the handling of his injury, claimed he wasn't coming forward with an axe to grind.
RAMSEY: "I'm not out to get anybody, I want high school athletes to know what they're getting into. This is what college football is really about it, it's a business."
Ramsey and Reddick also claimed to have sold Auburn memorabilia and tickets give to them for cash.
SportsbyBrooks.com reported Kremer's conversation with them as such:
RAMSEY: "I would sell tickets all the time, Iron Bowl you can make a thousand dollars a ticket."
KREMER: "How much money did that get you during your time at Auburn?"
RAMSEY: "Five-six thousand dollars probably."
REDDICK: "I sold my SEC Championship watch right off the stage as we were celebrating in Toomer's Corner."
KREMER: "Why did you sell it?"
REDDICK: "Because it was useless to me. I had to sell all my championship rings to help my sister not go into debt as her house was about to be foreclosed on."
At the end of the segment, Kremer then turns the focus on the impact these types of illegal activities had on the players' lives after football, as well as the fact it's seemingly a major problem in college football that's both rampant --- and never talked about.
SportsbyBrooks.com reported that Reddick said: "Guys will talk about all kinds of criminal activity but they won't talk about that because that's the system that was taking care of them. I believe a guy would talk about raping a girl before he would talk about getting money."
McClover than added: "It really turned me into a monster. When there's no morals to what you're doing, you're just into getting money, I spent it cause I felt like I could get it right back. '(Stanley McClover) don't want to get a education, I don't want to go to study hall, I want to get this money.' It's all about money. ... The decision that I made, is hurting me right now. Now I've got to try to find a career, now I've got to try to find a way to educate myself so I can talk to people. I'm not proud of what I did and I've destroyed my life."
Auburn, and every other school mentioned in the HBO Real Sports segment, denied any wrong doing when contacted by several media outlets. Auburn said in a statement these allegations were nothing more than "alleged claims apparently made by a few former football players," and "compliance with all NCAA and Southeastern Conference rules is a major emphasis and top priority for all of our athletic programs at Auburn University."
The NCAA and HBO reportedly turn down all requests for comment and interviews.
The players' claims is most troubling for Auburn, however, in that it comes on the heels of a similar "pay for play" scandal the school was ultimately cleared in this season involving Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton. According to an NCAA investigation, Newton's father, Cecil, allegedly shopped his son's commitment to Mississippi State, which reported the violation and didn't sign Newton. And when it came to Auburn, the NCAA cleared Newton and Auburn of any wrong doing, saying in its report that there was no evidence that Newton or the Tigers had knowledge of the scheme.
Auburn went on to finish undefeated and win the BCS National Championship, beating Oregon, 22-19, in the title game.