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Report: Auburn title team had grades changed, other issues

Auburn's 2010 national championship team is under scrutiny once again, as a report from a former New York Times and Sports Illustrated writer has indicated that players had grades changed to remain eligible.

Selena Roberts, known mostly for breaking the story in 2009 about Alex Rodriguez's use of steroids, wrote on her website, Roopstigo.com, that as many as nine players had grades changed to stay eligible for the national championship game against Oregon.

In addition, Roberts said players were offered money from coaches to bypass the NFL Draft to remain at Auburn and coaches also gave players excessive amounts of money to entertain potential recruits.

Roberts quoted former Auburn defensive lineman Mike Blanc in her story as saying the team thought nine players, including running back Mike Dyer, would be academically ineligible.

"We thought we would be without Mike Dyer because he said he was one of them, but Auburn found a way to make those dudes eligible," Blanc was quoted as saying.

Blanc told AL.com on Wednesday that he never made that quote and that Roberts' article "is outrageous and isn't true."

Mike McNeil, a cornerback on the title team who was dismissed from the program after being a participant in an alleged armed robbery in 2011, also said he had a grade changed. He said he missed too many classes and was set to receive a failing grade despite 'B' work, then went to a counselor within the athletic department and the grade was elevated to a 'C' and he didn't miss a game.

McNeil also said he went to then-defensive coordinator Will Muschamp after a tough day at practice back in 2007 and was handed $400 from the coach.

"He went into a drawer and gave me money and said, 'Is this enough? Is this good?' And I said, 'Yeah, I'm good.'"

Roberts' story said Muschamp, now the head coach at Florida, denied making the payment.

In the article, McNeil added that coaches gave him $500 to entertain recruit Dre Kirkpatrick. The NCAA allows less than $50 a day for such spending.

The 2010 Auburn team was led by Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton, whose eligibility was in question during the season because of allegations that his father requested money during recruitment. The NCAA cleared Auburn of any wrongdoing.

Auburn's head coach at the time was Gene Chizik, who was fired last November after the Tigers finished 2012 with a 3-9 record, including 0-8 in the SEC.