Wednesday evening Gene Chizik criticized HBO for its production of a recent Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel show segment examining the ethics of college football.
In the HBO piece hosted by Andrea Kremer, four former Auburn football players made multiple allegations of activities at the school that would be considered NCAA violations.
In his remarks to the media on the same day the HBO special premiered, Chizik said he felt the presentation was one-sided:
“What’s disturbing to me is they interviewed other former Auburn football players that had exactly the opposite to say but somehow or another that failed to make the air. Unless I missed that section.”
Today a source familiar with the HBO production told me that the four ex-Auburn players who appeared on the show were the only former Auburn players who were interviewed by HBO on-camera.
Later during his Wednesday press conference, a reporter asked Chizik:
“At any time did HBO try to contact you about this segment that aired tonight?”
When I asked HBO about its efforts to engage Auburn personnel about the show, HBO VP of Public Relations Ray Stallone sent me the following statement:
Our producers did reach out to the Auburn Sports Information Office to get comment from them on the claims made by the former Auburn players interviewed by Real Sports. The Sports Information Office represents the Athletic Department in dealing with the media. We read to them in detail over the phone the statements made by the former players that we were planning to include in our report and the response we received from the school was a “no comment,” which we included in our piece.
From having dealt with dozens of major university athletic departments over the years, I can assure you that had HBO tried to reach Chizik directly on its own, the Auburn Sports Information Office would’ve been very unhappy. HBO observed proper protocol when it came to reaching out to current representatives of the school.
Later in the press conference, Chizik said of HBO’s reporting:
“It saddens me that somebody’s going to air a show with basically one side being known. I think that’s pathetic and I think it’s pure garbage.”
During the HBO Real Sports segment that featured the four ex-Auburn players, HBO correspondent Andrea Kremer said:
As for Auburn University, officials declined to comment on quote, “these alleged claims apparently made by a few former football players” and said, quote, “compliance with all NCAA and Southeastern Conference rules is a major emphasis and top priority for all of our athletic programs.
In other words, Auburn officials had every opportunity to address the subject with HBO on the record, but declined.