Sports News Without Fear, Favor or Compromise
Sports News Without Fear, Favor or Compromise
Illustration for article titled Former Auburn Football Players Accuse Program Of Racism, Bribery, And Numerous Other Violations

Two years ago, four Auburn University football players—Antonio Goodwin, Shaun Kitchens, Mike McNeil and Dakota Mosley—were arrested and charged with armed robbery. Almost immediately, all four players were dismissed from the team by then-coach Gene Chizik, and everyone got on with their lives. Now, just a few days from his trial date, McNeil has decided to tell his side of the story to Selena Roberts at her new site, Roopstigo, and boy does he have a lot of bombs to drop.

McNeil, along with a handful of his former teammates, tells Roberts a story in which the Auburn football program and the community surrounding it sound just as odious as such places are so often believed to be. Among the claims alleged in Roberts's story: then-defensive coordinator Will Mushcamp, now the head coach at Florida, once tried to give McNeil $400; black players were targeted by police and drug tested by the team more often than their white teammates; grades were altered so that players who were academically ineligible could participate in the 2011 BCS championship game; receiver Darvin Adams was offered thousands of dollars by the coaching staff to return for his senior season and went undrafted after refusing to take the bribe, due in part to negative reports Auburn gave NFL scouts about him.


McNeil maintains that he is innocent of the robbery charges brought against him, claiming that he was unwittingly pulled into a robbery by his teammates. Roberts's story also claims that McNeil was never read his Miranda rights, and was abandoned by his former coaches despite the fact that witness testimony implicating McNeil's participation in the crime was wildly inconsistent.

To this day, no one from the university has talked to the family. After Mike McNeil posted a $511,000 bond, Police Chief Tommy Dawson told McNeil’s then-attorney that even though he was innocent until proven guilty, Mike would be arrested for trespassing if he set foot on campus. “In my 22 years,” [his attorney] said, “I’d never heard of anything like that happening to a student.” In a team meeting, players were told by coaches not to contact any of the accused or risk losing their scholarship. “Mike was like a brother,” says Nieko Thorpe, a former Auburn defensive back who plays for the Kansas City Chiefs. “I wanted to talk to my brother. I’m sure, with all that was going on, he felt betrayed.”

McNeil's trial begins on April 8. If convicted, he could be face 21 years to life in prison.


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