Thursday, April 7, 2011

AUBurgeddon: Auburn writer makes bare allegations, runs afoul of Gramm-Leach

JailAubie The Eastern Alabama Evil Empire simply can’t stand being in the spotlight. So what do they do?  Accuse Bama of recruiting violations! What a novel idea!

This is not their first go-round at making up stories about Bama’s NCAA compliance. This is their 473rd, or something. The most recent attempt was termed “Operation Red Dog,” and was an effort to entrap Alabama players and recruits by using people posing as boosters and offering improper benefits. No, really. They actually did that.

It could have done serious damage to Alabama, but unfortunately the crayon- and magic-marker covered papers jammed up all of the fax machines and the information never made it to the NCAA.

The new target of teh fambly is Russellville LB/RB Brent Calloway, who angered Auburn fans by switching his commitment from Alabama to Auburn and then back to Alabama, then finally signing with The Tide, ending any chance they had at beating Alabama to the top of the recruiting class rankings of 2011.

You will note a few subtle differences between Jeff Lee’s allegations appearing below and the reports made regarding Auburn’s recruitment of Cam Newton, Trovon Reid & Greg Robinson, and allegations of academic fraud and pay for play going back to the early 2000’s.

  1. A supporter of Alabama, not an alumni or booster, was very involved with Calloway and his recruitment. The “supporter” took Calloway to Tuscaloosa numerous times including the last weekend before Signing Day.
  2. Following Calloway’s visit to Tuscaloosa that weekend, the “supporter” drove Calloway out of state, most likely to Florida, and kept Calloway there until returning to Russellville Wednesday for Signing Day.
  3. Calloway did not attend school during that span, nor did he play in a scheduled high school basketball game.
  4. Calloway was excused from school from then-superintendent Don Cox, who informed Russellville principal Tim Guinn that Calloway would be excused because he needed the time to make his college choice.
  5. No other Russellville student received excused absences to make his/her college choice. 
    Cox, who is no longer superintendent, has a very close family member that works in the Alabama Athletics Department.
  6. Before Calloway’s last trip to Alabama before Signing Day, the “supporter” is alleged to have made cash payments to Harland “Peaches” Winston, Calloway’s adoptive father. 
    Winston received $2,500 from the “supporter” on at least one occasion.
  7. In addition to the aforementioned payment, Winston was also behind on his house mortgage, but made cash payments to catch up and then asked how much it would be to pay off the mortgage.
  8. The “supporter” also provided Calloway with a new car, which Calloway drove to school. The first day Calloway drove the new car, it raised enough questions that it was taken back by the end of the day.
  9. The car was purchased by the “supporter” from a dealership in Muscle Shoals, owned by another big supporter of Alabama athletics.
  10. The “supporter” informed Calloway that Calloway would receive $1,200 each month while at Alabama.

There is much more to the story and I will continue to look into it. I am scheduled to talk more about it Friday morning on WNSP in Mobile (from 7-7:30 a.m. CT).

Ok. The differences really aren’t so subtle.  The stuff that the NCAA is investigating at Auburn  comes from national sports journalists who have a little something called “sources” and “credibility.”

Mr. Lee is no Thayer Evans.

He might be in a legal problem, though. The Gramm-Leach-Billey Act provides strict protection on disclosure of non-public financial information:


(a) Privacy obligation policy

It is the policy of the Congress that each financial institution has an affirmative and continuing obligation to respect the privacy of its customers and to protect the security and confidentiality of those customers’ nonpublic personal information.

(b) Financial institutions safeguards

In furtherance of the policy in subsection (a) of this section, each agency or authority described in section 6805 (a) of this title shall establish appropriate standards for the financial institutions subject to their jurisdiction relating to administrative, technical, and physical safeguards—

(1) to insure the security and confidentiality of customer records and information;

(2) to protect against any anticipated threats or hazards to the security or integrity of such records; and

(3) to protect against unauthorized access to or use of such records or information which could result in substantial harm or inconvenience to any customer.

You can’t just go around collecting people’s personal financial information and blasting it all over the internet. Mr. Lee, his source, and perhaps both could face significant legal jeopardy following this little tantrum of theirs. If Mr. Winston truly was in financial stress, that is none of Auburn’s business, as stated in the United States Code. And if Mr. Winston’s financial situation was different from what is described above, then Mr. Lee and/or his source are in a whole different world of hurt.

People have been fined and gone to jail for secretly obtaining private financial information and using it for nefarious purposes.

There are some other problems with Mr. Lee’s bare allegations.  The Alabama “supporter” is neither a booster nor an alumnus of the school. He is therefore not a “Representative of Athletic Interests” as defined in the NCAA bylaw 13.

Mr. Lee says he will continue to air his story tomorrow morning on WNSP 105.5’s morning show. It’ll be interesting to see if he sticks to his story and jams up the fax machines with crayons and magic markers again.

The University of Alabama Compliance has been made aware of Mr. Lee’s bare allegations.

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