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NCAA continues look into Jovon Robinson transcript change

By Jerry Hinnen | College Football Writer

The NCAA investigation into Memphis-area high school football has continued, with the latest reports putting the magnifying glass on former Auburn running back signee Jovon Robinson.

The Birmingham News reported Tuesday that Robinson's former assistant coach at Wooddale High School, Courtney Rogers, confirmed for the paper that he has spoken to the NCAA about the altered Wooddale transcript that led to Robinson being declared academically ineligible.

"[The NCAA] talked to me and I'm going to leave it at that," Rogers said. "I'm not up for doing an interview."

Rogers did tell the News he had no control over Robinson's transcript and that he didn't know who was responsible for the changes. He said his brother Marcus Rogers, Wooddale's 2009 head coach, had also spoken to the NCAA. Two other Memphis-area coaches with connections to Robinson, 7-on-7 coach Byron De'Vinner and Lynord Crutchfield, have also confirmed they have spoken to the NCAA.

Asked Tuesday about whether the NCAA was looking into Auburn's recruitment of Robinson, Gene Chizik declined comment.

"I have one thing on my mind, and that's winning a football game this week. I'm not getting into that," Chizik said during his weekly press conference.

Memphis Commercial-Appeal reporter Kyle Veazey posted Tuesday that Auburn officials have repeatedly declined to answer questions over whether the school has been notified of an NCAA inquiry into its Memphis recruiting.

"We are are not going to discuss what the NCAA may or may not be doing in Memphis or elsewhere," Auburn spokesman Kirk Samspon told the Commercial-Appeal.

A four-star recruit out of Memphis's Wooddale High, Robinson signed with Auburn in February and was making an impression in the Tigers' fall camp when the Commercial-Appeal reported that a Memphis City Schools investigation into Robinson's transcript -- an investigation launched in response to information provided by the NCAA -- had revealed falsified grade changes.

Per a later Commercial-Appeal story, counselor Valerie Starks-Sykes admitted to having made the changes and resigned rather than accept a suspension. She refused to provide Memphis City Schools with a motivation for altering the transcript, other than to say she was "certain someone had asked her to make the changes," per an MCS e-mail account of her comments. Starks-Sykes did not name anyone else who might have also been involved in the changes.

A second counselor, Yvette Lynch, was found to have changed two grades according to MCS e-mails obtained by the Commercial-Appeal and confirmed that she, too, had twice spoken to NCAA officials. She said she had "absolutely not" received anything in exchange for making the grade changes.

"Let me say this: I never change a grade unless a teacher requests it," she said.

The NCAA's examination of Robinson's transcript is only part of a wider-ranging investigation into Memphis-area football, one which multiple NCAA interviewees have said is connected to Mississippi State. The Bulldogs have acknowledged the school is working with the NCAA to resolve a "potential recruiting irregularity," have disassociated a booster found to be in "impermissible contact with the prospective student-athlete," and saw receivers coach Angelo Mirando resign just days before the season over reported connections to the investigation.

Put all that together, and you get one whopper of a mess for everyone involved. But it's a mess that doesn't seem to be getting any smaller -- or any closer to a resolution -- anytime soon.

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