Statements support Bowden's revelations

Updated: September 18, 2003, 5:03 PM ET
Associated Press

AUBURN, Ala. -- Three longtime Auburn professors and former athletic director Mike Lude say former coach Terry Bowden told them football players were being paid when he arrived in 1993. The remarks confirm taped comments by Bowden.

Auburn already was on NCAA probation for improper payments to players at the time.

"He said that when he came to Auburn that there was a system in place for paying players," said Barry Burkhart, a psychology professor and former chairman of the university senate. "He said that he moved to put a stop to it, but it continued for some time and then ended."

The comments Wednesday by Burkhart and others followed reports that Bowden spoke of a widespread pay-for-play scheme involving Auburn boosters in taped comments to an Opelika-Auburn News columnist and former Auburn President William Muse.

The Opelika-Auburn News reported Thursday it had been able to confirm five separate meetings held by Bowden with individuals over a two-day period in April 2001 in which Bowden told of payments by boosters.

Lude, who became Auburn's athletic director in 1992 to help the university work with the NCAA in an investigation of illegal payments to player Eric Ramsey, said he had no "concrete evidence" players were paid as claimed by Bowden. But he said Bowden told him of such payments in 1999 and 2001.

Lude retired in 1994 and Bowden quit as Auburn coach during the 1998 season.

Bowden did not immediately return a call Thursday from The Associated Press. He is a commentator for ABC Sports, where spokesman Adam Freifield has said Bowden contends the remarks were off the record and would have no further comment.

"I don't recall him ever saying, 'You can't repeat this,' or that it was 'off the record.' He wanted someone to hear it," said Burkhart.

Auburn has said Bowden certified to the NCAA each year during 1993-98 that he was unaware of any unreported violations of NCAA rules.

Lude said Bowden first told him of the cheating during a 1999 conversation in Pennsylvania.

There is a four-year statute of limitations for NCAA violations, with an exception if the infraction is considered "blatant." NCAA spokeswoman Kay Hawes has told the AP she wouldn't elaborate on the accusations concerning Bowden.

Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press