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An ill wind blows across the Auburn plains with Jacobs’ latest actions

By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter

A recent brawl between two student-athletes at Auburn University is adding to calls for the embattled Athletic Director to step down, according to a well-placed source.

Auburn Athletic Director Jay Jacobs’ attempt to intervene after two AU football players engaged in a raucous fistfight during a fraternity party over the third weekend in October is just the latest episode in a death spiral of controversy surrounding the beleaguered Jacobs.

Trouble arose when Jacobs hired an attorney to represent the two young men at a student disciplinary hearing. This led to a showdown between Jacobs and Auburn President Steven Leath.

According to a university official not authorized to speak publicly on the matter, Leath vetoed Jacobs’ decision to hire an attorney, which has only added to the existing tension between the administration and Jacobs. The Alabama Political Reporter learned that Leath informed the two student-athletes that if they felt they needed legal representation, then they would need to pay for it. According to APR’s source, Jacobs, who sought to pay for the attorney with athletic department funds, was acting contrary to school policy and acted beyond his authority as the athletic director.

According to APR’s source, the two football players faced only some menial public service work on campus if the committee found any wrongdoing.

Jacobs’ office didn’t return APR’s calls for clarification; likewise, the president’s office refused to comment on the matter. Auburn University spokesperson, Mike Clardy, in an email response to APR’s query wrote, “It is Auburn University’s practice not to comment on matters involving students.”

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Despite the silence from the athletic department and administration, there is growing concern that Jacobs is a liability that must be dealt with sooner than later.

Recent scandals within the athletic department are casting a grave shadow over the hallowed student athletic programs under Jacobs’ charge.

In September, Auburn Basketball Assistant Coach Chuck Person was arrested on six federal counts of conspiracy and fraud stemming from an FBI investigation into the alleged wrongdoing.

Person, along with nine others, are charged in part of the U.S. attorney’s investigation. Auburn Assistant Coach Person is charged with bribery conspiracy; solicitation of bribes and gratuities; conspiracy to commit honest services fraud; honest services wire fraud; conspiracy to commit wire fraud; and travel act conspiracy, according to a 32-page complaint filed in the Southern District of New York.

Also, the women’s softball program is under fire for an allegation of sexual harassment by coaches. According to an August ESPN report, “former player Alexa Nemeth, filed a Title IX sexual discrimination complaint with the school claiming ‘Coach Clint Myers knowingly let his son Corey Myers have relations and pursue relations with multiple members of the team.'”

According to a 14-page complaint filed by Nemeth, she alleges a pattern of “abusive treatment by the Tigers coaching staff, a pattern of sexual harassment,” and concerns about an official cover-up by school officials.

Jacobs’ latest move to protect student football players from a disciplinary hearing is seen as yet another ill wind blowing across the plains – one that many students, administration officials and alumni hope will quietly subside with Jacobs’ departure.

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Bill Britt is editor-in-chief at the Alabama Political Reporter and host of The Voice of Alabama Politics. You can email him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter.

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