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NCAA Investigation Of Auburn Still Going; Chizik Gets “Testy” With NCAA Rep

What was Gene Chizik thinking?

According to a New York Times report late yesterday, Auburn’s football coach got into a “testy exchange” with Julie Roe Lach — the NCAA’s vice president for enforcement — last month at the SEC meetings in Destin.

The Times’ Pete Thamel writes that Lach:


“… made a presentation to the group, which included every men’s basketball coach, football coach and athletic director in the conference.  When she opened up the room for discussion, Auburn’s football coach, Gene Chizik, raised his hand first.

He peppered Roe Lach with a flurry of questions about the NCAA’s investigation into Cam Newton and why the NCAA had not publicly announced that the investigation was over.  Chizik complained that the inquiry’s open-ended nature had hurt Auburn’s recruiting and he followed up at least three times, leading to a testy exchange.

‘You’ll know when we’re finished,’ Roe Lach told Chizik, according to several coaches who were at the meeting.  ‘And we’re not finished.’”


First — seeing as how we’ve quoted SEC and Auburn officials on numerous occasions on the topic — we were under the impression that everyone in the world knew that the NCAA wasn’t finished with its investigation.  Mike Slive has said that he’d gotten no word that the investigation was closed.  Auburn AD Jay Jacobs has said pretty much the same.

How did Chizik not know that the investigation was ongoing?  But the bigger question is this – if the exchange went down as Thamel’s sources say it went down — Why in the world would Chizik go toe-to-toe with the people investigating his program in a public setting?  That’s equivalent of a citizen popping off to a police officer.  It can be done, but it probably isn’t a very smart move.

According to Thamel, basketball coaches Kevin Stallings, Mike Anderson, Andy Johnson and Trent Johnson confirmed the exchange between the coach and the NCAA’s top cop.

Anderson, the Times writes, “said there was a visceral reaction in the room to Chizik’s questioning, with coaches shrugging their shoulders and looking perplexed.”

Roe Lach appeared at the SEC meetings in an attempt to explain that the NCAA is making a concentrated push on the enforcement front.

Stallings: “It was obvious they were trying to be thorough.  It was obvious they wanted everyone to know that there’s a more diligent pursuit than there’s been in the past.  The staff is bigger and more aggressive.  I thought that (Roe Lach’s) message was a good one.”

Johnson: “The message that the NCAA is sending is ‘Enough already.’”

And that’s what makes the Chizik reaction even more bizarre.

Kennedy: “I think the format of the meeting was set up to be generally about the lay of the land going forward.  When (Chizik) got into specific questions regarding their situation, I think we were all sitting back saying, ‘I didn’t know that we were going here.’”

Kennedy also told The Times that he thought Auburn’s coach “was trying to get some finality to when the process was over, and it was an interesting debate, to say the least.”

Chizik’s actions — obviously — were those of a frustrated man who is tired of hearing about the Cam Newton affair from media types, prospects and prospects’ parents.  But that’s doesn’t excuse his actions.

Auburn won a national championship with a player who whose own father admitted to shopping to Mississippi State.  That in itself could have gotten Newton suspended by the SEC had the league simply gone by the letter of the law in its own rulebook.

Of course the NCAA is going to be more thorough in its investigation of such an outside-the-box case.  And even if it had closed its investigation, it might have reopened it after reading Cecil Newton’s boneheaded comments to The Charlotte Observer a couple of weeks ago.

Asked by the paper if he had asked Auburn for money — as he had Mississippi State — the elder Newton said, “According to what the NCAA findings are, that’s what we’re going with.”

What a stupid, stupid thing to say.

And for Chizik to risk angering the body that’s already investigating him over a player whose father — at the very least is admittedly dirty — is just as stupid.

We’ve said on a number of occasions that if evidence were going to come out linking Newton to Auburn via cash it likely would have already been uncovered.

Still, Chizik and everyone else associated with the Auburn athletic department should argue and banter with the NCAA behind closed doors if they like.  But to do so in front of other coaches and athletic directors?  Chizik might as well have put a battery on his shoulder and dared sports’ governing body to knock it off.




 


3 comments
Darren
Darren

Dirty school, dirty coach and staff. Auburn, Cecil and Cam and Chizik should all be punished. Anyone who don't think that NCAA rules were violated is blinded by their affection for this program. So clear it's foolish to ignore. I hope the NCAA drops the hammer on Auburn.

Schlap
Schlap

Auburn = dirty cheats.... national title = null and void ...suck it rednecks!!!!!

Jim
Jim

Well, I disagree with a few things. First, to say Chizik should have this conversation with the NCAA behind closed doors ignores the fact that he doesn't just get to pick up the phone and talk to the NCAA enforcement staff anytime he likes. This was a rare opportunity for him to have the ear of the #1 person in charge. Otherwise, it's a "don't speak unless spoken to" dynamic with NCAA enforcement.

Second, you've misread the record: not once has Cecil Newton admitted to shopping his son to MSU. It was the NCAA and Auburn that mutually stipulated to a set of facts, with the understanding that Cam was eligible under that set of facts. We still don't know exactly what happened in the conversations between MSU and Cecil -- whether Kenny Rogers initiated the whole thing or whether Cecil was the moving force from the beginning. Cecil has said that the NCAA "knows the truth - it's in their files," and is not (at least while the investigation is ongoing) disputing anything -- so far. But provisionally declining to dispute something and admitting to that thing are very different.

Third, there is another angle on this: Obviously Chizik and everyone at Auburn are confident that no one involved with the program has done anything wrong, hence the frustration. Your "don't risk angering the NCAA" logic applies if you're scared there might be something out there that inculpates Auburn, but not being afraid to take the NCAA to task for its opaque and seemingly unending investigation process could be a good sign that they've got nothing to hide and nothing to fear.

By the way, the anti-Auburn contingent can accuse Tiger fans of media conspiracy theories all they want, but what are we supposed to think when it's PETE THAMEL who "breaks" this "news" of an informal back-and-forth in a closed-door session that apparently took place over a month ago and includes not one shred of evidence of any wrongdoing? Just more innuendo and accusatory subtext without any facts to back it up... A familiar story indeed: full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.



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