Former Auburn coach Gene Chizik
AUBURN, Ala. — One day after an independent website broke the story of bribery and corruption at Auburn prior to winning the 2010 football national championship, ESPN reported Thursday that the team used so much synthetic marijuana that it led to widespread failed drug tests.
The ESPN investigation said top university official knew of failed drug tests and made an effort to keep the tests secret.
The report said the school had a dozen failed tests — including running back Michael Dyer — for the designer drug and a dozen other seniors were never caught. The school implemented drug testing after it won the 2011 national title game over Oregon.
Earlier Thursday, former Auburn coach Gene Chizik vehemently denied a report that said former Auburn players have accused the school of changing grades, bribery and a laundry list of other allegations while Chizik was guiding the program to its 2010 national title.
Three former Tigers, including Mike McNeil who is on trial for armed robbery, detailed the allegations to former New York Times and Sports Illustrated columnist Selena Roberts, whose report appears on her Website Roopstigo.com. Chizik equated the report to some of the controversy surrounding former Auburn quarterback Cam Newton, whose eligibility was questioned by the NCAA.
“The recent story published by Selena Roberts is more of the same. It once again portrays Auburn University, current and former coaches, professors, fans, supporters and community officials in a false light,” Chizik said in a statement released by his agent.
As for the synthetic marijuana, ESPN said the drug, which is known as “spice,” has side effects such as paranoid delusions, hallucinations, and, in rare cases, deaths.
ESPN reported freshman tight end Dakota Mosley was never punished after failing seven consecutive weekly tests for the drug. He was suspended, but for a recruiting violation.
Auburn’s athletic department said in a statement Thursday that ESPN report included “baseless and inaccurate” allegations.”
“The facts clearly demonstrate that the Auburn Athletics Department and the Committee on Intercollegiate Athletics acted appropriately and aggressively in response to the growing threat of synthetic marijuana during the 2010-2011 academic year,” Auburn’s statement said.
ESPN said its investigation found that while Chizik and athletic director Jay Jacobs learned of the positive drug tests, the players’ parents were never alerted.
The ESPN report raises more questions about an Auburn athletic department that was under suspicion for quarterback Cam Newton’s recruiting two years ago and this week for allegations of corruption.
Among some of the allegations reported by Roberts are:
-- Then-defensive coordinator Will Muschamp, now the head coach at Florida, once tried to give McNeil $400;
-- McNeil said players who hosted recruits were given far more than the $50 allowed by NCAA;
-- Police targeted black players and drug tested black players more often than white players;
-- Grades were altered so that players who were academically ineligible could participate in the 2011 BCS championship game;
-- Darvin Adams, a wide receiver was offered thousands of dollars by the coaching staff to return for his senior season. Adams went undrafted after refusing the coaches’ overtures due in part to negative reports Auburn gave NFL scouts.
A Florida spokesperson denied the payment allegation to Roberts on Muschamp’s behalf. Neither Auburn nor Chizik has responded to the report, CBSSports.com reported.