At least five SEC football players, including one from the reigning national champion Alabama Crimson Tide, were paid cash while still playing for their college teams, Yahoo! Sports reported Wednesday.
Yahoo! Sports reporters Rand Getlin and Charles Robinson wrote that they connected the dots to the Southeastern Conference scheme using financial and text message records belonging to former Alabama defensive end Luther Davis. The story accused Davis of being a go-between for NFL agents.
The players named in the investigation include one from Alabama, offensive tackle D.J. Fluker; two from Tennessee, quarterback Tyler Bray and defensive end Maurice Couch; and two from Mississippi State, defensive tackle Fletcher Cox and wide receiver Chad Bumphis.
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The SEC has won the last seven national championships, with Alabama owning three of the last four crowns.
If the allegations are true, the players would be in violation NCAA Bylaw 126.96.36.199, which prohibits college athletes from receiving benefits from agents or marketing representatives.
The accusations could also affect Alabama's most recent national championship, according to USA Today.
The University of Southern California was forced to vacate two BCS title appearances, including one championship, following penalties related to extra benefits received by former tailback Reggie Bush during his career with the Trojans in 2010.
Of the five players, Couch is the only one still in school, playing his senior year at Tennessee, according to the Yahoo! Sports report. Fluker (San Diego Chargers), Bray (Kansas City Chiefs), and Cox (Philadelphia Eagles) are all currently on NFL rosters and Bumphis was recently released by the Miami Dolphins.
The news broke as Alabama prepares to take on rival Texas A&M Saturday.
"We have been aware of some of the allegations in today's story and our compliance department was looking into this situation prior to being notified that this story was actually going to be published," Alabama athletics director Bill Battle said in a statement released Wednesday. "Our review is ongoing. We diligently educate our student-athletes on maintaining compliance with NCAA rules, and will continue to do so."
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Last year Alabama's program concluded a three-year probation from a 2009 textbook scandal, according to AL.com.
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