Former Alabama Crimson Tide offensive lineman D.J. Fluker was among five former and current SEC football stars implicated in receiving impermissible benefits from former Alabama defensive end turned liaison Luther Davis in a recent Yahoo! Sports report.
The report, written by esteemed Yahoo! investigative sports reporters Rand Getlin and Charles Robinson, also listed former Tennessee Volunteers quarterback Tyler Bray, current Tennessee defensive lineman Maurice Couch and former Mississippi State Bulldogs Fletcher Cox and Chad Bumphis.
Robinson and Getlin supply extensive financial records and text message records that connect the five accused athletes with accepting money and gifts from Davis. The former Alabama defensive end was a member of the Crimson Tide from 2007-2010, winning a national championship with Alabama in 2010 before being signed as an undrafted free agent by the Buffalo Bills.
Davis would not make the 53-man roster, and has not been on an NFL roster since.
The report alleges that Luther Davis either directly supplied cash to the alleged recipients or served as an intermediary between the alleged recipients and agents. None of the players accused of receiving impermissible benefits commented.
Meanwhile, Alabama and Mississippi State’s athletic offices both responded with statements claiming the schools were investigating the allegations. The University of Tennessee declined comment entirely.
Several of the agents accused of supplying the funds to Davis to provide to the players have issued statements–either themselves or through their lawyers–denying the claims altogether or declining comment. The report alleges that Davis set up meetings between some of the agents and players mentioned in the story.
Of course, this all comes on the heels of a five-part Sports Illustrated story that is being released claiming massive impropriety by the Oklahoma State Cowboys under both former head coach Les Miles and current head coach Mike Gundy. Both reports feature significant allegations that could eventually lead to probation or worse for all the programs involved.
In the Yahoo! Sports report, D.J. Fluker is accused of major violations. Included in the list of benefits received by Fluker from Davis were several cash transfers (Western Union), a bedroom set, hotel accommodations, flight tickets, an insurance policy and much more.
Luther Davis filed an invoice for all expenses incurred titled “D.J. Fluker invoice” that totaled $33,755.
Of course, USC was restricted 10 scholarships per year for four years and given a two-year postseason ban for similar transgressions.
Needless to say, the paper trail supplied by Robinson and Getlin spell bad news for all the teams involved. Alabama has a history of NCAA trouble, and both Tennessee and Mississippi State are on probation until 2015 for secondary violations incurred.
And in opposition to Part One of the Sports Illustrated expose, Yahoo! Sports’ allegations rely heavily on evidence that documents the transactions themselves, whereas the SI piece relies largely on word of mouth recounts of cash transfers. The distinction may be key to the NCAA and the schools as they investigate these allegations.
All told, this could spell serious trouble for all three SEC schools, Luther Davis and any agent involved in the wrongdoing. And while four of the five implicated players have either graduated or forfeited their remaining eligibility by since declaring for the draft, leaving them out of reach of NCAA enforcement, it could lead to a suspension for Maurice Couch.
It’s been a rather dark era for collegiate football and, despite the fact that it seems we’re constantly reevaluating the concept of amateurism, these allegations (if true, and let’s face it… it doesn’t look good) are all clear violations of current NCAA bylaws. And depending on team and NCAA findings, we could see some serious restrictions placed on any or all of the teams.