The start of college football season is less than two weeks away, but it’s scandal that continues to be the narrative surrounding the game. From Ohio State’s probe into domestic violence to Maryland accepting responsibility for the on-field death of a player, there are more stories of cultural issues than quarterback controversy these days.
Now, another scandal has fallen upon the SEC. Linebacker Santino Marchiol, currently enrolled at the University of Arizona, is accusing Texas A&M and head coach Jimbo Fisher of multiple NCAA violations, including illegal cash payments, excessive offseason workouts and improper handling of injuries.
Marchiol, a redshirt freshman linebacker from Englewood, Colorado, was recruited to Texas A&M by former head coach Kevin Sumlin last year. When Jimbo Fisher came to town, Marchiol initially looked forward to having a new head coach.
“I was excited to take on a new challenge with Jimbo Fisher,” he said. “I was nervous, but I like new things like that. I told my dad, ‘I’m going to be his favorite player here.’”
Obviously, something changed Santino Marchiol’s mind.
When the linebacker decided to transfer out of College Station, he had two options: Marchiol could sit out the season and lose another year of eligibility, or he could get a waiver from the NCAA as long as there were “documented mitigating circumstances” that were “outside the student-athlete’s control” that negatively affected his time at school.
Seeking immediate eligibility, he submitted his waiver request to the NCAA.
As a result, Marchiol has unloaded a storm of serious accusations at the Texas A&M program.
In the statement obtained by USA Today, the former Aggie alleges multiple serious violations from recruiting to improper treatment, including direct NCAA rules violations by several members of the Texas A&M staff.
Marchiol’s accusations include:
— Linebackers coach Bradley Dale Peveto giving Marchiol hundreds of dollars to host prospects during unofficial visits. The NCAA allows the school to give player-hosts a maximum $40 per day for these visits — any money given by a coach is already a violation, let alone the excessive amount.
— Aggies’ players were subjected to workouts extending far beyond the NCAA’s limit of eight hours of mandatory work per week in the summers. Marchiol described a typical day at the A&M facilities lasting from 9 a.m. until 6:30 p.m. or later.
— Players who showed up any later than the 5:15 a.m. for Wednesday morning workouts were locked out of practice and forced to use the Stairmaster for 45 minutes before they could come to practice. — an NCAA bylaw states no football activities other than games may occur between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m.
— Verbal mistreatment by the entire football staff under Fisher. Ken Marchiol, Santino’s father said, “He called them a bunch of p——, said they weren’t worth a f—. It wasn’t teaching, just attacking.”
— Director of Athletic Training Dan Jacobi told Marchiol to take pain killers and return to practice despite serious discomfort in his surgically repaired left foot. After severe swelling and painful bruising, Marchiol decided to leave Texas A&M.
The ankle injury was the final straw, as Marchiol decided his well-being was more important than pleasing his new head coach.
While mystery still clouds these allegations, this isn’t a good start for Jimbo Fisher’s 10-year contract, which he officially signed this week.
The Aggies are coming under allegations at a time when college football is already under fire, and this could be a cloud that hangs over College Station as the opening week of college football approaches.
Texas A&M plays host to the FCS’ Northwestern State on August 30.