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Five Southeastern Conference players received improper benefits during their college careers, including former Alabama offensive tackle D.J. Fluker, according to a Yahoo Sports report.
The Yahoo report Wednesday cited text messages and financial records of former Alabama defensive end Luther Davis and an unnamed NFL source who said Davis was a go-between for the players with NFL agents and financial advisers.
The players named in the report were Fluker, who started on two national championship teams, Tennessee quarterback Tyler Bray and defensive end Maurice Couch, Mississippi State defensive tackle Fletcher Cox and wide receiver Chad Bumphis.
All three schools issued statements Wednesday saying they are investigating the allegations.
The report comes on the heels of Sports Illustrated articles outlining alleged widespread misconduct within the Oklahoma State program, including academic fraud and illegal payments.
The transactions could violate NCAA rules prohibiting benefits from agents or representatives.
Southern California received heavy sanctions for improper benefits to Heisman Trophy-winning tailback Reggie Bush, including a two-year bowl ban, four years of probation, 30 lost scholarships and 14 vacated victories.
Davis, who played on Alabama’s 2009 national championship team, declined to comment in the Yahoo report
Couch is a senior for the Volunteers. Fluker, Bray and Cox are playing in the NFL while Bumphis was recently released by the Miami Dolphins.
The report named three NFL agents and three financial advisers who Yahoo said engaged in transactions totaling at least $45,550 with Davis between September 2011 and December 2012.
Yahoo said records show Davis distributing at least $12,700 in cash, airfare and other expenses to the five players. The report included a 49-item invoice totaling $33,755 from February 2013 that Davis emailed to Fluker’s onetime financial adviser, Hodge Brahmbhatt.
Agents Andy Simms, Peter Schaffer and John Phillips and financial adviser Mike Rowan each confirmed giving money to Davis, according to Yahoo, but said they didn’t instruct the former player to provide benefits to players, and didn’t know of him doing so.
Yahoo said financial advisers Jason Jernigan and Brahmbhatt declined comment.
Alabama athletic director Bill Battle said in a statement that the university was aware of the Yahoo’s report.
“We have been aware of some of the allegations in today’s story and our compliance department was looking into this situation prior to being notified that this story was actually going to be published,” Battle said in a statement. “Our review is ongoing. We diligently educate our student-athletes on maintaining compliance with NCAA rules, and will continue to do so.”
Alabama coach Nick Saban briefly addressed the allegations after Wednesday’s practice, mostly deferring to Battle’s statement.
“I have full confidence in our leadership that we’re going to do whatever we need to do to handle the situation appropriately, and I know that we will,” Saban said, adding that he didn’t know of any current players involved in allegations related to the report.
Mississippi State spokesman Gregg Ellis said the university “constantly educates our student-athletes about agent-related issues. We’ve also worked closely with the Mississippi Secretary of State’s office in recent years to strengthen the Mississippi Uniform Agent Act. As always, we will do our due diligence to evaluate any potential concerns.”
Mississippi State and Tennessee are both on probation for other NCAA violations until the summer of 2015.
Tennessee athletic department spokesman Jimmy Stanton also said the university emphasizes rules compliance.
“The education of our student-athletes regarding NCAA rules and extra benefits is and will continue to be the central focus of our compliance efforts,” Stanton said. “We are aware of the article and are examining all of the relevant facts, and we will not comment further.”
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