If you're like me you probably took the statements made by Jeffrey Lee, a Rivals.com writer covering Auburn, on Mobile radio earlier this week concerning the recruitment of Tide signee Brent Calloway with a gigantic grain of salt. Let's face it, the guy did nothing but throw out allegations of some sinister happenings with no proof or even the willingness to put his own reputation on the line by insisting that he's not reporting them as news but that "the allegations are out there." Further discrediting him, he ducked a follow up interview the next day, releasing this statement:
"Due to an enormous amount of additional information AuburnSports.com has received in the last 24 hours, we are not planning any updates today as we sort through the details. I will not be conducting any interviews including the one previously scheduled with WNSP in Mobile. We firmly stand behind our sources on this, and want to thank our members for your understanding and patience as this story continues to develop"
As Team Speed Kills so succinctly put it, "I can't help but think that some of that additional information came from a lawyer or twelve." We honestly haven't even bothered commenting on it here because, well, it seemed like so much talk radio/message board foolishness that it didn't even dignify a response and the lone fanshot concerning it produced the kind of comments it deserved; mocking scorn. Thankfully we have an athletic department that takes things more seriously than we do. The UA compliance staff is looking into the allegations and have already conducted interviews:
UA compliance department officials interviewed Calloway, Russellville resident Darren Woodruff, bank officials at First Metro Bank and Calloway’s adopted father, Harland Lindsey Winston, known as "Peaches."
At issue are allegations made Thursday morning by Auburn Rivals reporter Jeffrey Lee on Mobile radio station WSNP. Among Lee’s allegations were that an Alabama supporter – subsequently identified as Woodruff — paid Winston $2,500 for Calloway to commit to Alabama, as well as supplying Calloway a new car. Lee also alleged Woodruff pulled Calloway out of school in the days leading up to signing day, taking him on a trip to Florida.
Nothing much has come out of it so far beyond the type of denials and "we're confident the truth with come out" statements one might expect from the family and parties involved, but the fact that the compliance staff heard the allegations and immediately began taking action should at least make us feel very comfortable that Alabama is taking this seriously and wants to make sure that it can in no way harm the school or football program. That's a pretty stark contrast from a different program I can think of that recently ran to every microphone, TV camera, and rooftop it could find to proclaim the innocence of it's star player before clamming up days later and giving the allegations even greater legs in the public's eye. As much as I personally tend to ignore this whole story until something more substantial than the rumor mongering of sports talk radio comes out on it, it's good to know that the athletic department isn't, and are doing things the right way.
UPDATE: via Aaron Suttles, "TideSports.com Exclusive: UA finds no violations in Calloway recruitment." Of course, the story is behind the pay wall right now, so we'll just have to take his word for it....