AUBURN, Ala. -- Three longtime Auburn professors and former
athletic director Mike Lude say former coach Terry Bowden told them
football players were being paid when he arrived in 1993. The
remarks confirm taped comments by Bowden.
Auburn already was on NCAA probation for improper payments to
players at the time.
"He said that when he came to Auburn that there was a system in
place for paying players," said Barry Burkhart, a psychology
professor and former chairman of the university senate. "He said
that he moved to put a stop to it, but it continued for some time
and then ended."
The comments Wednesday by Burkhart and others followed reports
that Bowden spoke of a widespread pay-for-play scheme involving
Auburn boosters in taped comments to an Opelika-Auburn News
columnist and former Auburn President William Muse.
The Opelika-Auburn News reported Thursday it had been able to
confirm five separate meetings held by Bowden with individuals over
a two-day period in April 2001 in which Bowden told of payments by
Lude, who became Auburn's athletic director in 1992 to help the
university work with the NCAA in an investigation of illegal
payments to player Eric Ramsey, said he had no "concrete
evidence" players were paid as claimed by Bowden. But he said
Bowden told him of such payments in 1999 and 2001.
Lude retired in 1994 and Bowden quit as Auburn coach during the
Bowden did not immediately return a call Thursday from The
Associated Press. He is a commentator for ABC Sports, where
spokesman Adam Freifield has said Bowden contends the remarks were
off the record and would have no further comment.
"I don't recall him ever saying, 'You can't repeat this,' or
that it was 'off the record.' He wanted someone to hear it," said
Auburn has said Bowden certified to the NCAA each year during
1993-98 that he was unaware of any unreported violations of NCAA
Lude said Bowden first told him of the cheating during a 1999
conversation in Pennsylvania.
There is a four-year statute of limitations for NCAA violations,
with an exception if the infraction is considered "blatant." NCAA
spokeswoman Kay Hawes has told the AP she wouldn't elaborate on the
accusations concerning Bowden.