Report implicates SEC players

Report implicates SEC players

September 12th, 2013 by David Paschall in Sports - College

Yahoo Sports on Wednesday reported that five Southeastern Conference football players, including former Tennessee quarterback Tyler Bray and former Alabama tackle D.J. Fluker, received improper benefits during their careers.

The report, which came a day after Sports Illustrated began a five-part series detailing allegations into Oklahoma State's program, cited financial records and text messages of former Alabama defensive end Luther Davis and an unnamed NFL source. The unnamed source said Davis acted as a go-between for the players with NFL agents and financial advisers.

Other players named were current Tennessee defensive end Maurice Couch, former Mississippi State receiver Chad Bumphis and former Mississippi State defensive tackle Fletcher Cox. Tennessee coach Butch Jones said on his weekly radio show that Couch would not play in Saturday's game at Oregon due to heat exhaustion he suffered during Tuesday's practice.

Alabama, Mississippi State and Tennessee each released statements Wednesday responding to the report.

"We have been aware of some of the allegations in today's story, and our compliance department was looking into this situation prior to being notified that this story was actually going to be published," Crimson Tide athletic director Bill Battle said. "Our review is ongoing. We diligently educate our student-athletes on maintaining compliance with NCAA rules, and will continue to do so."

Following Wednesday's practice, Alabama coach Nick Saban praised the agent education programs within the athletic department and expressed full confidence in the university's leadership. He then received several questions about the Yahoo report and quickly became irritated.

After asking the media if anyone had any questions regarding Saturday's showdown at Texas A&M and then hearing nothing, Saban left the podium while saying, "I appreciate your interest in the game."

Yahoo's report claims that three NFL agents and three financial advisers engaged in transactions totaling at least $45,550 with Davis between September 2011 and December 2012. The status of Alabama's national championships the past two seasons could be at stake if rules were indeed broken, and Mississippi State and Tennessee are actually on NCAA probation until the summer of 2015.

It was a Yahoo Sports report that uncovered former Southern California tailback Reggie Bush receiving improper benefits while playing for the Trojans. As a result of the NCAA investigation that ensued, USC was placed on four years of probation that included 30 lost scholarships, 14 vacated victories and a two-year bowl ban.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

Contact David Paschall at dpaschall@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6524.