After days of buildup, HBO's Real Sports unveiled its pay-for-play report to the world on Wednesday night as part of an hour-long special. The allegations are nothing new for fans of college athletics: various former Auburn football players detailed money changing hands during both the recruitment progress and their time with the Auburn football program. Four players -- Stanley McClover, Troy Reddick, Chaz Ramsey and Raven Gray -- all spoke of being on the receiving end of "money handshakes" or receiving cash as an incentive to attend Auburn, stay with the program and keep up their performance on the field.
For college football fans, the allegations should barely be a blip on the radar -- pay-for-play and hundred dollar handshakes are nothing new; college athletics are a dirty game. While improper benefits strike to the core of amateurism, a principle the NCAA prides itself on, the allegations detailed payments that were orders of magnitude less than other recent cases we've seen. Reggie Bush's family allegedly received hundreds of thousands of dollars, Cam Newton's father allegedly requested around $200,000, yet these four said they received an amount in the low tens of thousands in total.
When it came to recruiting, it was a free-for-all, each said. McClover committed to Ohio State after an official visit he described as no holds-barred. He alleged boosters gave him $1,000, his hosts took him to parties and girls provided sexual favors during the weekend. But in a signing day shocker, McClover signed on the dotted line with Auburn after a booster sent him a book bag full of cash.
While the allegations were serious, it was also glaringly obvious each had an ax to grind with the NCAA or Auburn. Ramsey injured his back and sued the school, Gray was also injured early during his career at Auburn, McClover flamed out of the NFL and is out of money and Reddick had a falling out with the coaching staff late in his career with the Tigers.
The segment served as the shock value of the Real Sports report, meant to capture attention and hammer home the overall point of the program. Players are exploited, the system is broken and continued allegations of boosters and programs run rampant only serve as further supporting evidence, the report said. But shining a light on the problem alone isn't enough, and only reinforced what many already know about the shady underbelly of major college athletics.