Thanks to breaking news reported Wednesday by Clay Travis on his new website OutkickTheCoverage.com we learned why the NCAA investigation into the Auburn football program, as Travis put it today, “has now stretched into its tenth month.”
(Aubs: $170K Over 7-Day Period To Keep NCAA Jail Away From The Plains)
Travis reported that the latest round of investigatory activity took place in Montgomery in late June:
NCAA investigator Jackie Thurnes checked in to the Renaissance Hotel in downtown Montgomery and conducted interviews in conference rooms there. Thurnes investigation dealt with continuing issues surrounding the eligibilty of Cam Newton and other Auburn players implicated in pay-for-play scandals.
Travis noted Thurnes was specifically looking into allegations made by former Auburn football players during a recent HBO Real Sports episode. During her visit to Alabama, the NCAA investigator also attempted to confirm the validity of a separate claim that Cam Newton may have received discounts from a Montgomery-based clothier.
Of the lingering inquiry into the Auburn football program, Travis added:
The NCAA investigation has now stretched into its tenth month, leaving Auburn and SEC officials chastened. In SanDestin at the SEC spring meetings, Florida SEC Commissioner Mike Slive told me that there was no doubt the NCAA’s timeframe often conflicted with the immediacy of media coverage. That dichotomy, between media coverage of allegations and tangible proof of wrongdoing, leaves programs dwelling in a perpetual cloud of impropriety.
Often that cloud can impact recruiting, a point that was driven home to me by Tennessee football coach Derek Dooley in SanDestin. Indeed, it was Dooley’s questioning of the NCAA investigator in SanDestin that led to Chizik’s insistence on whether the NCAA had completed its investigation.
Recruiting issues may have prompted Chizik’s assertive tact, though the looting of the university’s “Auxiliary Enterprises-Athletics” fund by lawyers defending the school may too have something to do with it.
A search today of 2011 fiscal year payments on Auburn’s Controller/Financial Reporting website to Lightfoot, Franklin & White, the Birmingham legal firm defending Auburn as it wards off the NCAA’s steady wave of allegations, revealed that the school had outlayed $401, 244.78 in attorney fees.
The figure is particularly eye-popping considering the official Auburn website’s payment record doesn’t account for the past seven weeks.
On Feb. 9, 2011, the BIRMINGHAM NEWS reported Auburn had paid the same Lightfoot, Franklin & White “$170,000 in attorney fees on the Cam Newton case during the past 4 months.”
The lucrative NCAA practice of Birmingham-based Lightfoot, Franklin & White is highlighted by Sam Franklin, who in addition to having defended Auburn against the NCAA since the early ’90s, is the personal attorney of defrocked Auburn Trustee and flat-busted AU superbooster Bobby Lowder, former Auburn football coach Pat Dye, Auburn megabooster and gambling magnate Milton McGregor and ex-Auburn political lobbyist Robert Geddie.
The latter two are currently on trial and being defended by Franklin in a federally-prosecuted political corruption case. (Thought you were busy?)
While Franklin’s bio on his firm’s website is extensive, it does not mention his Auburn-compensated swashbuckling against the NCAA the past two decades.
Likewise, despite Auburn being Lightfoot, Franklin & White’s primary NCAA defense client, the firm’s site fails to mention its longstanding work for the school. Instead, the site highlights its defense of USC and Michigan in NCAA cases.