Arkansas' McFadden expects to play in Cotton Bowl despite SUV report
Arkansas star Darren McFadden said Saturday he fully expects to play in the Cotton Bowl after a television report raised questions about his eligibility. KARK-TV of Little Rock has since backed off the report, apologizing to McFadden and his family.
"It's something that's uncalled for -- people not getting their facts straight,'' said McFadden, the Heisman Trophy runner-up. "I haven't done anything wrong.''
Arkansas officials are looking into allegations that the running back received a car from an agent, as the agent and McFadden's father denied the report.
The report alleged that McFadden had received a Cadillac Escalade, a luxury SUV, with the help of an agent, Mike Conley.
Graylon McFadden, Darren's father, insisted Friday that the reports were "a bold-faced lie," adding that the car belongs to McFadden's mother. The junior two-time Doak Walker Award winner has been borrowing the car, he said.
Conley, who said he does not represent McFadden and is not a certified football agent, also said the report was untrue. Conley is registered as an agent with the NBA and represents his son, Mike Conley Jr., and Greg Oden, who was the No. 1 overall draft pick in the 2007 NBA draft.
"I got a call and was told that somebody is saying I walked into a dealership in Fayetteville with Darren and helped him purchase a car," said Conley, a former track and field star at Arkansas. "I haven't been in Fayetteville in a while, and I certainly haven't been in any car dealerships with Darren McFadden."
Arkansas, however, is still investigating the allegations, as they could affect McFadden's eligibility for the Cotton Bowl against Missouri. According to NCAA rules, signing with or having improper contact with an agent could affect a player's eligibility.
"We always want to take the higher road in any of these situations, and whether they're rumors or not, let it play out in the arena it needs to be done," Arkansas interim coach Reggie Herring said, according to the Dallas Morning News. "They're going to get to the bottom of it as soon as possible so everybody can rest easy."
On Saturday, the university released the following statement, without naming McFadden by name:
"Earlier this week, media reports suggested that potentially improper steps were taken to secure a vehicle for an Arkansas student-athlete. The university immediately initiated a review of the matter. Although the television station that reported the story has publicly apologized for its initial report, the university has continued to vigorously review the matter. The university is appreciative of the cooperation of those who have been involved in the review process. While it would not be appropriate to comment specifically regarding the review at this time, it should be noted that the student-athlete has not been ruled ineligible. We will continue to work judiciously to review this matter."
Meanwhile, KARK-TV backed off its report, issuing a public apology on its Web site Friday.
"We have already personally apologized to Mike Conley for our poor standards of reporting," the station said on its Web site. "And we want to publicly apologize to Mr. Conley for any distress he has experienced. And we also want to apologize to Darren McFadden and his family for reporting details of this story that were not accurate."
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.