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NCAA expands Auburn investigation

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Thayer Evans

Senior College Football writer Thayer Evans previously wrote for The New York Times and Houston Chronicle, as well as contributed to The Economist, USA Today, The Washington Post and more. Follow him on Twitter.

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NCAA investigators on Monday interviewed several people in Thibodaux, La., about Auburn’s recruitment of offensive lineman Greg Robinson and wide receiver Trovon Reed and both players’ involvement with Sean Nelson, who took them on multiple unofficial visits to Auburn.

Dennis Lorio, Thibodaux High School's former football coach, said he was interviewed for 45 minutes by one of two NCAA investigators who visited him Monday. Robinson was also interviewed by an NCAA investigator for “a couple of hours” and Robinson’s mother was also interviewed, according to Lorio.

Sports by Brooks Sports by Brooks has more questions about Auburn.

Efforts to reach Robinson and his mother Wednesday were unsuccessful. NCAA spokeswoman Stacey Osborn declined comment, citing the NCAA’s policy of not commenting on current, pending or potential investigations.

A message left for Auburn athletic director Jay Jacobs was not immediately returned Wednesday.

Lorio said the NCAA investigator who interviewed him asked if he believed Auburn had committed NCAA violations in its recruitment of Robinson, who signed with the national champion Tigers earlier this month. Robinson and Reed, who redshirted as a freshman this past season, were both primarily recruited by Trooper Taylor, Auburn’s assistant head coach.

“I can’t say what Auburn did because I don’t know and I wasn’t involved very much,” Lorio said Wednesday. “I really don’t know truthfully.”

“My answer is what went on with Greg’s recruitment, you’re going to have ask Trooper Taylor, Greg, his parents and, I believe, Sean Nelson. I don’t have any more answers because I don’t know.”

In December, Lorio told FOXSports.com that several coaches and students saw Robinson show off cash and a new iPhone at school after making an unofficial visit to Auburn earlier in the year.

Messages left with Auburn spokesman Kirk Sampson for a request to talk with Taylor were not immediately returned Wednesday.

Before last month’s BCS title game, Taylor told FOXSports.com he did not give money or items to Nelson or Robinson.

“It’s illegal to give money,” Taylor said with a laugh. “Greg Robinson got travel money for coming down with him and his family, which is for mileage and they got a check for that. That was it.”

Lorio said the NCAA investigator also asked about him about Nelson’s relationship with Robinson and Reed and the unofficial visits to Auburn on which he drove them. In an interview with FOXSports.com last month, Nelson denied he was paid by anyone associated with Auburn for taking Reed and Robinson to their unofficial visits.

Nelson and Robinson both told FOXSports.com they made two such visits together.

"All I know is what Greg did when he was around here,” Lorio said. “He did well. He didn’t do as great this year as his junior year. He was inconsistent. We weren’t quite as good. There were a lot of things going on. As far as what went on when he left here, I have very little knowledge. That’s just a fact.”

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Lorio said the NCAA investigator also asked about Robinson’s grandmother, Lydia Robinson, whom Lorio said he has never met. Robinson said Wednesday she was not interviewed by the NCAA and declined further comment.

But she told FOXSports.com last month that she was unhappy with Auburn’s recruitment of her grandson and Nelson having taken him to Auburn on unofficial visits. Robinson also hoped her grandson would choose another school.

She said Auburn's coaches "weren't very intelligent" and was especially critical of Taylor, who she says "got a lot of lies in there when he was talking."

“I don’t know anymore beyond that,” Lorio said.

Lorio said one person told him Nelson was interviewed by NCAA investigators and that another person was unsure if it happened. Nelson, who claims to be Reed’s guardian and operates a non-profit mentoring program called Total Package, declined to tell FOXSports.com on Wednesday whether he had been interviewed by the NCAA.

“Why you calling me? Unless you’re calling to apologize, don’t call my phone no more,” Nelson said before hanging up.

Tagged: Auburn, Trovon Reed

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