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http://www.al.com/news/press-register/inde....xml&coll=3

First Saban in Miami, Now a counterpunch in Mobile. Things are going to get bloody in the state of Alabama it seems.

It seems we were given the changed grades back in 2006, before recruiting even began. Either way, we cannot be held accountable for what happened at a HS.

Auburn signees' grades changed

Friday, May 25, 2007

By RENA HAVNER and MIKE HERNDON

Staff Reporters

Grade changes on the transcripts of two Auburn University football signees from Mobile are under investigation by the Mobile County school system and the NCAA Clearinghouse, which verifies the grades of all college-bound athletes, according to school officials.

Superintendent Harold Dodge confirmed to the Press-Register on Thursday that several grades of one student graduating this week from B.C. Rain High and another from Williamson High were changed on the students' transcripts. Later versions of the transcripts had higher final grades than what the students originally earned, Dodge said.

"There seems to be some variance in the scores," Dodge said. "On a first blush, it looks like either the first transcripts were really wrong" or the grades were changed for some other reason.

That may have helped the students become academically eligible to play football at the Division I college level, officials said.

Both students whose grades are in question have received scholarships to play at Auburn, according to officials close to the situation.

Dodge said he could not release the names of the students.

But Ryan Williams, a defensive back, is the only 2007 B.C. Rain graduate who received a scholarship to play at Auburn, and Nick Fairley, a lineman, is the only Williamson graduate to do so this year.

Williams said he was not aware of any investigation of his grades.

"I have never heard anything about it," Williams said Thursday afternoon. "I did extra-credit work. I never had to get any grades changed. I earned every grade I got. I know I haven't done anything wrong ... so I'm not really worried about it."

Efforts to reach Fairley and Williamson athletics director/head football coach Bobby Parrish and school Principal Terrance Mixon were unsuccessful.

Auburn statement

Auburn athletics director Jay Jacobs, when asked about the investigation, released a statement Thursday afternoon that read, "Auburn Athletics is committed to providing a quality academic experience for our student-athletes. Our normal process includes a review of final transcripts of all incoming signees to ensure that they are in good academic standing and are prepared to be successful students. If there is an issue, we will respond appropriately."

Officials on Thursday gave no indication that Auburn's recruitment of Fairley or Williams is under investigation by the NCAA or that anyone affiliated with Auburn is connected to the grade changes.

Both Fairley and Williams were first-team 5A all-state selections and first-team Press-Register all-region picks. Both were included in the Press-Register's Elite 18 list of the state's top college prospects -- Fairley was the No. 9 prospect in the state, and Williams was No. 10.

Mobile County school system investigators have been at both high schools this week, interviewing administrators and reviewing the students' academic records, Dodge said.

"We're going to do everything we can to find out what happened and why," Dodge said, adding that the "integrity of the entire school system is at stake."

Sitting at his Barton Academy desk in downtown Mobile, Dodge looked over a stack of papers, including two versions of the same transcript. He would not say which student's transcript he was reviewing, but while speaking with a reporter, he counted out four final grades "that we're concerned with."

"It's the same quarter, the same class, different grades," Dodge said.

Clearinghouse

The National Collegiate Athletic Association contracts with the Iowa City, Iowa, NCAA Clearinghouse to determine whether high school athletes are eligible to play sports at the college level. Students submit transcripts to the clearinghouse their junior year, according to NCAA spokesman Bob Williams.

Dodge said the transcripts he had were for the same student, one dated March 2006 -- the student's junior year -- and the other June 2006.

Officials with the clearinghouse review transcripts to make sure the athletes passed certain core courses -- math, science, English and history. Students who don't pass those courses are declared ineligible to play sports immediately at an NCAA institution, Bob Williams said. The clearinghouse checks back with the students to make sure they have high enough grades to graduate.

The spokesman said he could not comment on or confirm whether the NCAA Clearinghouse is questioning two Mobile students' transcripts.

Dodge said he's not clear on whether the grades were changed as a result of human error, whether someone who works for the school system changed them, or if someone from outside the system hacked into the computerized grading program.

Another possibility, he said, is that the students went back and did extra work to earn the higher grades. But, he said, such opportunities aren't usually offered to high school students.

Either way, Dodge said, "I will deal with it, and I mean that I will deal with it."

Dodge said that at one of the two high schools, investigators have traced the change as having been made at a particular computer on campus. But, Dodge said, several people may have had access to that computer.

"I'm a football fan, but that's not the issue," Dodge said. "When we send a transcript out, it has to be as accurate as possible."

When contacted by the Press-Register on Thursday afternoon, B.C. Rain head football coach Anthony Shamburger said that was the first he'd heard of any investigation.

"I can't see how that can happen," Shamburger said. "Grades can't be changed unless a teacher changes them. ... That's nothing the AD (athletics director) or the coach can do."

Joe Toomey, acting principal at B.C. Rain, declined to comment on the specifics of the investigation, saying simply: "We are cooperating with any agency that's investigating."

Lion leader

Fairley, at 6 feet 4 inches, 258 pounds, was graded 90 percent on his blocking assignments as a tight end and offensive tackle and was also one of the Lions' leaders on defense as an end.

He was one of three players from Williamson to sign college football scholarships in February. He also helped Williamson to the Class 5A state basketball championship.

Williams, at 5 feet 11 inches, 182 pounds, made 55 tackles and one interception for Rain last year. He joined four other Red Raiders in signing scholarships in February, including two other Division I prospects.

Both Fairley and Williams have been selected for next week's Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Classic, to be played June 2 at Ladd-Peebles Stadium. One of the main requirements for players to participate in that game is that they graduate from high school.

Dodge said that in his nine years leading the state's largest school system, "never before have there been questions" like these over transcripts. He said the NCAA Clearinghouse, as far as he knows, has never questioned Mobile County transcripts before.

Every year, Mobile County handles the transcripts of about 9,000 students, "And to tell you the truth," Dodge said, "I don't want to be questioned once. I hope this clears up with a logical and reasonable answer."

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Hmm.

Certainly if there was some monkey business it should come to light.

That said, I think the timing of this is curious. Right after ESPN picks up the story about Saban's potential violations....

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Hmm.

Certainly if there was some monkey business it should come to light.

That said, I think the timing of this is curious. Right after ESPN picks up the story about Saban's potential violations....

Yeah, you got that right. The problem is that with both schools relatively even, this could be a cut throat recruiting place from this day forward. There might not be anyone left standing after not too long.

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Hmm.

Certainly if there was some monkey business it should come to light.

That said, I think the timing of this is curious. Right after ESPN picks up the story about Saban's potential violations....

Yeah, you got that right. The problem is that with both schools relatively even, this could be a cut throat recruiting place from this day forward. There might not be anyone left standing after not too long.

I'm going after Butch Davis, myself! He has such a nice ass! Have you seen him in those coaching shorts? Mmmmmm.....

Charlotte (N.C.) Latin quarterback Braden Hanson had some visitors on Wednesday, as North Carolina head coach Butch Davis and offensive coordinator John Shoop stopped by to watch the 6-6, 195-pounder work out.

UNC head coach Butch Davis and offensive coordinator John Shoop visited Braden Hanson Wednesday.

"Coach Butch Davis and Coach Shoop came by for about 20 minutes to visit with me during lunch time, and then headed over to Butler (High School). After school, there was a little drill thing. I got to throw around a little bit with the shoulder pads and helmets on, and they came to see that. It was a good day. I kind of let them know where I am in this process, and we got a chance to catch up and all that; it was fun," he said.

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We don't need those guys anyway. We roll like...uh...10 deep, yeah, 10 deep at...whatever position it is they play.

Esquire, My Friend, You now owe me one keyboard cleaning. (And those coffee stains are tough!)

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