A recent financial audit by Sports by Brooks of payments made by Auburn University to student football recruiting hostesses since late 2009 revealed that the state-funded institution paid out tens of thousands of dollars to the student “Tigerettes” charged with escorting football players during recruiting visits to the school.
A Jan. 28, 2011, article in the AUBURN PLAINSMAN detailed the background of the longstanding, school-sponsored group:
The Tigerettes got their start in the late 1970s during former football head coach Doug Barfield’s tenure.
At first, the program used local high school seniors and Auburn freshman as guides for prospects, but as the program expanded, interviews and training processes were added, and participation in the program was limited to female Auburn students, at which point they became known as the Tigerettes.
The program further expanded once former coach Pat Dye came to Auburn.
“We used more of them because he brought in large numbers of recruits, trying to build the program back up” said Sue Locklar, on-campus recruiting coordinator. “We started going through a very hard selection process.”
Locklar said there are typically between 400–500 applicants who go through the selection process.
Males were added to the group as “Tiger” hosts in 1992 but the demographic makeup of the Auburn football recruiting organization remains almost entirely female.
According to employee payroll data available to the public on the official Auburn University website, 21 Tigerettes were paid $78,044.26 between Oct. 2, 2009, and May 31, 2011. Five male “Tiger” hosts were paid $6,880.19 during the same period. (The 27 school employees are currently listed as “2010-2011″ officers and members of the organizaton on the Tigerettes official website.)
Here is a sampling of Auburn students who have been paid by the school as “Tigerettes”:
Jamie Nolen (female): $12,840.48 (since 3/19/2010)
Emily Jenkins: $8,415.49 (since 2/19/2010)
Jordan Poitevint (female): $7.547.25 (since 3/5/2010)
Dominique Neville (female): $6,521.45 (since 10/2/2009)
Morgan Stewart (female): $4,132.50 (since 9/3/2010)
All tolled, Auburn has paid out $84,924.45 to student football recruiting hostesses and hosts since Oct. 2, 2009.
So what does Auburn get for that money? In late 2009 Simpson Fletcher of the AUBURN PLAINSMAN reported:
(Dominique) Neville’s duties as president of the group include serving primarily as the liaison between Auburn University Athletic Department administrators and the organization, daily hostings of prospective students and prospective student-athletes, providing clerical and administrative support for the athletic department, and serving at various athletic department functions.
In the same article, Fletcher reported of a student Tigerette named Audra Brawley:
Audra Brawley, a sophomore Tigerette in biomedical sciences, said the main duties of Tigerettes and Tiger Hosts are recruiting the best young men to become Auburn football players, aiding the coaches, helping the secretaries in the office with mail outs to prospective players and working with the athletic department in recruiting students.
“I absolutely love Auburn football because I grew up watching it every Saturday in the fall with my dad,” Brawley said. “He has three daughters and turned me into his makeshift son. We would come to games and see the girls with recruits, and I knew how much impact they had on the future of Auburn football. I wanted to be them so I could impact Auburn football too.”
The Jan. 28, 2011, Plainsman piece on Tigerettes also mentioned Auburn football recruiting hostess Jamie Nolen:
Jamie Nolen, senior in public relations and third-year Tigerette, said her friends give her a hard time because she doesn’t come home enough.
“I love it so much, so I’ll be up here until three o’clock in the morning if I need to get something right. I’ll put in extra time,” Nolen said. “Pretty much the only time we were at home this weekend was to put our pajamas on and go to bed.”
Since March 19, 2010, Auburn has paid Nolen $12,840.48 for her work as a Tigerette football recruiting hostess.
Part of Nolen’s official duties as a Auburn football recruiting hostess apparently include tracking prospective Auburn football players on Facebook.
Greg Robinson, a highly-recruited lineman from Thibodaux, La., who signed with Auburn last February recently noted in a Facebook entry dated May 28, 2011, that he was moving to Auburn for the summer.
The next entry on Robinson’s public Facebook page timeline was the Auburn recruit adding Nolen as a “friend”.
In a Jan. 8, 2011, report on FOXSports.com, Thayer Evans wrote of Robinson’s recruitment by Auburn:
Former Thibodaux High coach Dennis Lorio says several coaches and students saw Robinson show off cash and a new iPhone at school after a visit to Auburn. Robinson wrote in a Facebook message in July that he got the phone when “I came to Alabama.”
… “How did players from Thibodaux, La., become so interested in Auburn?” Lorio asks. “That’s a really good question. (Auburn Assistant Coach) Trooper Taylor and (NCAA-targeted Robinson associate) Sean Nelson would know.”
… Nelson drove Robinson to Auburn for unofficial visits — two of them, both say. Nelson says he didn’t approach Robinson about taking the trips but let Robinson ride along on trips Nelson already had planned. Robinson says he told Taylor he wanted to visit the school, and Taylor called Nelson to see if Robinson could ride with him.
A crosscheck of Scout.com articles about Robinson revealed that between late May, 2010 and Feb. 2., 2011 (signing day), Robinson reportedly took six visits to Auburn. Five of those visits were of the unofficial variety.
On Feb. 16, 2011, Sports by Brooks reported:
Monday NCAA investigators descended on Thibodaux, Louisiana, to meet individually with Auburn football recruit Greg Robinson, Robinson’s mother Lydia, Robinson associate Sean Nelson and Robinson’s former Thibodaux High School Coach Dennis Lorio.
Here is a list of all of the checks reported by Auburn University’s official website to Nolen:
In addition to Nolen, Robinson is confirmed Facebook friends with multiple other Tigerettes, including Morgan Stewart ($4,132.50), Hillarie Deen ($4.377.00), Adrianne Redding ($3,610.50) and Jordan Bocage ($3,367.63).