A recent story revealed that Auburn coach Gene Chizik had what was painted as a testy exchange with Julie Roe Lach, the NCAA’s vice president for enforcement, during the SEC spring meetings in Destin a few weeks ago. Speaking at SEC Media Days this morning, Chizik downplayed the intensity of that conversation.
He said it was neither an “angry” nor “agitated” exchange with Roe Lach. The story said that Chizik asked Roe Lach during a meeting why the NCAA had not announced that its investigation of former Auburn quarterback Cam Newton was over, and she reportedly replied, “You’ll know when we’re finished. And we’re not finished.”
Asked about it today, Chizik characterized the exchange as educational, not confrontational. He said he assumed that conversation would be private but did not hesitate to address it.
“It was a real simple question of process to Julie,” he said. “I thought there would be nobody better to ask. It was very informative, and there were some clarifications that were made that had to do with process. I was very appreciative that we had some things that were cleared up, and I was educated on some questions that I had.”
Chizik said he doesn’t “operate on rumors and innuendos” and brushed aside any talk that the NCAA investigation has cast a pall on Auburn’s national championship and Newton’s season. He said he’s had a “blast” since winning the title and called spring practices one of the most enjoyable he’s had as a coach.
“I sleep really good every night when my head hits the pillow. I know we’re doing things the right way every day,” he said, and later praised Auburn’s compliance department for educating coaches and players on NCAA rules.
Chizik was also asked about the fellow SEC coaches who recounted his conversation with Roe Lach, and if he was concerned about being “sold out” by them.
“I’ve got way too many things to do to concentrate on a daily basis with football, so I don’t necessarily focus on any of those potentially outside distractions.”
He was also asked about comments made on the radio yesterday by USA Today’s Danny Sheridan regarding the NCAA finding a “bag man” who supposedly helped Auburn pay for Newton.
“I’ll make this real clear: The NCAA on more than one occasion has said Auburn’s done noting wrong in its recruitment of Cam Newton. Nothing’s changed,” Chizik said. “You can’t control everyone’s microphone.”