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September 11, 2013
10 P.M. UPDATE: Former University of Alabama lineman D.J. Fluker has been interviewed by UA compliance officers and is cooperating with the school's investigation into allegations that he received improper benefits while playing for the Crimson Tide, TideSports.com has learned.
TideSports.com has also learned that Luther Davis, the former player cited in a Yahoo Sports report as the conduit for the money and benefits, has been informed that he is not welcome around the UA football facility and UA officials have warned him to stay away from players.
UA was already looking into the matter before the Yahoo Sports report was published Wednesday, and has worked with the Southeastern Conference in investigating the charges.
Fluker is named in the report along with former Tennessee quarterback Tyler Bray, current Tennessee defensive lineman Maurice Couch and former Mississippi State players Fletcher Cox and Chad Bumphis as being players who received benefits through Davis.
"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," UA athletic director Bill Battle said in a statement released early Wednesday evening. "Our review is ongoing. We diligently educate our student-athletes on maintaining compliance with NCAA rules, and will continue to do so."
Alabama coach Nick Saban was asked about the report after Wednesday's practice, and said he had not read it.
"I've stated, from an administrative standpoint and from our compliance standpoint, I think our people do a fantastic job," Saban said. "I know that we have one of the best agent education programs in terms of what we try to do to help our players make good choices and decisions, what they do and what they don't do when it comes to agents, and I have full confidence in our leadership that we're going to do whatever we need to do to handle the situation appropriately, and I know that we will.
"I don't know anything about any current players that will have any circumstances relative to this. So there's no sense in asking about that.
"For as many high-profile players as we've had around here, I'm really pleased with the way most of them, for the most part, have managed their circumstances and their situations and focused on what they need to do for the University of Alabama." Saban then fielded three questions about the story, growing increasingly frustrated with each one, before exiting the podium with this comment: "Appreciate your interest in the game."
The Yahoo Sports story details payments received by Fluker, his girlfriend and her mother, including cash transfers, hotel stays, furniture, airline flights and other expenses.
When contacted by TideSports.com, Davis' mother, Sharon Davis, said she was unaware of any report involving her son. "I don't know anything about that," she said.
A message left on Luther Davis' cell phone was not immediately returned. Davis was a defensive end at Alabama from 2007-10. A team representative for the NFL's San Diego Chargers, who drafted Fluker in the first round of the 2013 draft, told the San Diego Union-Tribune newspaper Wednesday that Fluker would not be made available for comment after practice. The Yahoo Sports report alleges that at least $45,550 was transferred to Davis between September 2011 and December 2012 by three NFL agents - Andy Simms, Peter Schaffer and John Phillips - and three financial advisers - Jason Jernigan, Mike Rowan and Hodge Brahmbhatt, who the report says is Fluker's former financial adviser. Yahoo's unnamed sources said Davis acted as a "concierge" between college players, agents and financial advisers, and the report cites records that show more than $12,000 in cash, airfare and other expenses moved from Davis to the five players in the same time frame.
Documents in the report include Western Union receipts showing $500 in wire transfers from Davis to "Danny Fluker" in May 2012, and a receipt showing Davis paid for a $1,200 bed set from Sticks N Stuff that was included in an itemized invoice of 49 transactions from a February 2013 email listing $33,755 in expenditures under the heading "D.J. Fluker Invoice." The invoice comes from an email sent from Davis to Brahmbhatt. Transcripts of text messages between phone numbers linked to Fluker and Davis referring to the wire transfer and bedroom set are also cited in the report.
The Yahoo Sports report also includes other records detailing transactions, including an itinerary for a private flight from Nashville, Tenn., that made stops in Starkville, Miss., and Gulf Shores on July 3, 2012, listing passengers that included Davis, an agent and two attorneys associated with another agent. The names "L. Davis, D. Fluker" and "E. Stinson" were among those under a listing for a courtesy car for "Meeting at The Shrimp Basket" in Gulf Shores. Fluker is from Foley, which is about 10 miles from Gulf Shores.
Ed Stinson is a current UA defensive lineman. An agent who was at the meeting, Isaac Conner, told Yahoo Sports that Stinson was not present.
The transactions, if found to be valid, could violate NCAA Bylaw 18.104.22.168, which prohibits players from receiving benefits from agents or marketing representatives.
The Yahoo Sports report also cited text message exchanges between former Alabama safety Mark Barron and agent Andy Simms that involved the recoup of money. Those texts took place in 2011 while Barron was a senior at Alabama.
The report may also shed new light on a message sent out over Fluker's Twitter account in April, just before the NFL Draft.
"Yea I took $ n college so wat. I did wat I had to do. Agents was tryin to pimp me so I pimped them. Cast da 1st stone," the message said.
Fluker and his agent, Deryk Gilmore, claimed at the time that the player's account had been hacked.
- D.C. Reeves and Lyons Yellin contributed to this report.