The report, titled “Auburn’s Tainted Title: Victims Violations and Vendettas for Glory” and published on Wednesday, April 3, consisted of multiple accusations of NCAA violations directed toward the Auburn football program from 2007–2011.
The focus of the article falls on McNeil, who was arrested for his involvement in an armed robbery involving several Auburn football players in 2011. McNeil’s trial is this upcoming week.
After the article’s publication, it became apparent that Roberts had misquoted and stretched the words of former Auburn football players, including linebacker Neiko Thorpe, defensive end Mike Blanc and linebacker Darren Bates. The players took to Twitter to defend themselves and accuse Roberts of her questionable reporting.
With players denying the validity of Roberts’ quotes and interpretation of the program, either Roberts or the parties involved are lying or covering up their involvement. With McNeil’s trial next week, the coincidence of the publication this week seems unlikely.
The NCAA’s 13-month investigation of Auburn starting in 2010 found the team had committed no violations in the years prior. The thorough investigation that included more than 80 interviews should be enough to keep the NCAA away from another stemming from the publication of Roberts’ article.
Almost like a double-jeopardy clause, the NCAA has maintained a watchful eye over Auburn since the investigation, and the chance of reopening the case based on this contested article should be expected as slim to none.
So why publish it?
Roberts has been known to be a controversial reporter in her stints at The New York Times and Sports Illustrated. She fell into hot water after making inappropriate remarks regarding the Duke lacrosse team following its acquittal of a proven false rape charge, referring to them as gang members and career criminals after they were proven innocent.
Chris Kyle, a Huffington Post writer who published the article “The Decline and Fall of Selena Roberts,” showcased her famous book “A-Rod: The Many Lives of Alex Rodriguez,” and questioned her motives behind belittling him.
The apparent consistent stirring of the pot by Roberts seems to be her recent claim to fame. Her reasoning behind this article raises many questions. Why is she concerned with an Auburn story that occurred years ago and isn’t absolute groundbreaking news?
Alex Rodriguez taking steroids is huge national news. An Auburn player receiving $400 from a coach and later whining about it right before he goes to trial for an armed robbery is not.
Did McNeil or his lawyers get in contact with Roberts to bring some more drama and distraction to his trial? Or did Roberts, who ironically is an Auburn graduate, pursue this story herself?
Considering that McNeil’s lawyer, Ben Hand, just withdrew from the case days before the trial, this falls on Roberts.
Though the motive is unknown, the reality is the story is out there. Roberts has done a sensational job making this go viral whatever her reasoning. People are talking, the athletic department is sure to be scrambling and Roberts just became the most talked-about person in Auburn. She should be recognized for the storm she’s single-handedly put over the Plains today, but ridiculed for the way she’s gone about it.