Auburn confirms softball program under investigation for alleged abuse
An Auburn spokesperson confirmed Sunday, in response to an ESPN report, that the school's softball program is under investigation for alleged abuse that took place under former head coach Clint Myers.
According to Cassie Arner, associate athletic director for strategic communications, Auburn launched its investigation last September after several players filed anonymous ethics complaints about the alleged behavior of Corey Myers, the team's associate head coach and Clint Myers' youngest son. That led to Corey Myers' two-week leave of absence from the team. Arner said Sunday that the investigation has "been a continuous process."
Corey Myers officially resigned March 30, after players say they provided administrators with text messages obtained from the cellphone of a teammate whom they suspected of being in an inappropriate relationship with the coach.
Five former players told ESPN that Auburn officials responded to the presence of the texts by imposing a three-hour "quarantine," in which members of the team were kept in a room and told to delete the messages.
A statement released by the school on Sunday in response to the ESPN report said: "As a university that cares deeply about our student-athletes, we have taken this seriously since the first concerns were raised. ... Once the facts were established, changes to the staff quickly followed."
According to AL.com, in an April 27 interview, Auburn athletic director Jay Jacobs said he had no knowledge of an investigation into Corey Myers' behavior. In response to Corey Myers' resignation, Jacobs told AL.com, "I really didn't have a reaction other than what his statement was, which is that he wanted to spend more time with his family."
On Sunday, Arner called Jacobs' statement "unfortunate" and potentially "misleading."
"There's a big fear of admitting investigations because of what that does to the privacy of some of the people involved," she said. "He probably should have just said, 'We don't comment on investigations.' Publicly, he was just echoing the statements from when Corey resigned, which does seem misleading."
Arner also said that a July 7 report on AL.com claiming that Clint Myers had agreed to a three-year contract extension with Auburn was "categorically false." Arner said Myers mentioned it to a "friendly" reporter, and it "caught fire from there."
"I think there was a little misunderstanding," she said. "It was premature to say that there was a contract extension extended."
On July 20, the attorney for former Auburn player Alexa Nemeth sent a 14-page complaint to Jacobs, Auburn president Steven Leath and Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey alleging abusive treatment by the Tigers coaching staff, a pattern of sexual harassment and concerns about an administrative cover-up. A Title IX complaint filed by Nemeth to the school claims: "Coach Clint Myers knowingly let his son Corey Myers have relations and pursue relations with multiple members of the team."
Clint Myers retired on Aug. 24, citing "the importance of spending quality time with my wife, my children and my grandchildren."
On Sunday, the office of Gov. Ivey issued the following statement to ESPN and Auburn's general counsel: "Governor Ivey fully supports President Leath, and is sure that Auburn University will fully protect all its student-athletes."