Auburn president Steven Leath: Softball program under comprehensive review
Auburn president Steven Leath told ESPN on Monday night that the university is doing a comprehensive review of its softball program after alleged abuse under former coach Clint Myers.
Leath, who became Auburn's president on June 19, said the investigation began last fall prior to his hire.
Leath told ESPN that the investigation gained more urgency in recent months after a Title IX complaint was filed to the school by former player Alexa Nemeth that claimed: "Coach Clint Myers knowingly let his son Corey Myers have relations and pursue relations with multiple members of the team." An attorney for Nemeth sent a letter to the school and the Alabama governor in July claiming the program was "toxic" and "lacked any kind of institutional control."
Leath said the school has hired the Birmingham, Alabama, law firm of Lightfoot, Franklin & White to ensure an objective third party is involved.
The investigation was initiated in September 2016, according to Cassie Arner, associate athletic director for strategic communications, 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, who took a two-week leave of absence at that time.
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.
On April 27, Auburn athletic director Jay Jacobs said he had no knowledge of an investigation into Corey Myers' behavior, according to AL.com. 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." She added: "There's a big fear of admitting investigations because of what that does to the privacy of some of the people involved. He 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."
Jacobs could not be reached for comment Tuesday.
Clint Myers retired on Aug. 24, citing "the importance of spending quality time with my wife, my children and my grandchildren." Leath said that a previous report by AL.com that Myers had been offered a contract extension was "totally false."
A statement released by the school on Sunday in response to an initial 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."
On Sunday, the office of Gov. Kay 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."