Some Texas A&M players received thousands of dollars in signing incentives and bonuses, weekly allowances, performance payments, car deals and other favors from A&M coaches and boosters, the Dallas Times Herald reported yesterday after a two-month investigation into the university's football program.
The newspaper said interviews with more than 40 recent players and other inside sources indicate that A&M players tapped into a wealthy network that allowed them special privileges in violation of NCAA rules.
Former player Gary Rogers of Dallas said he received so much money from Dallas banker and Dallas A&M Club president-elect Riley C. Couch III that he began to doubt one man alone was supplying it.
"It came to the point where I began to wonder, 'Where is it coming from?' " said Rogers, a blue-chip defensive lineman who signed with A&M in 1982 and left after sitting out the 1983 season on a disciplinary suspension. "I just blew money all the time. I partied a lot," Rogers said.
Players apparently collected unauthorized benefits during the coaching tenures of Jackie Sherrill and predecessor Tom Wilson.
Texas A&M is the 1985 Southwest Conference champion, set to play Auburn in the Cotton Bowl Jan. 1. Sherrill, the football coach and athletic director, says he knows of no improprieties in his program and adds that an ongoing internal investigation has not turned up any.
But the Times Herald said it found two players, Rogers and Cal Peveto -- they played on different A&M teams under different head coaches and do not know each other -- who say they received considerable cash from Couch. Peveto has told his story to the NCAA. Rogers has not.
Rogers says he received $5,000 from Couch as a high school junior in 1981 and another large, unspecified payment from Couch upon signing a letter of intent with A&M in 1982. Rogers also says Couch paid him a weekly allowance while he attended A&M in 1982 and 1983.
The newspaper reported that on occasion, coaches directly paid players, sometimes hundreds of dollars. It said A&M quarterback Kevin Murray is driving a 1985 Audi 4000-S on campus, a car leased through a Cincinnati professional sports agent.
Sherrill conceded that some things could go on undetected by him.
"If I sat here -- or any coach -- if he sits here and tells you that there are 100 percent clean sheets, that guy either has his head in the sand or he's lying," he said during an interview in which A&M's legal counsel was present at Sherrill's request . . .
Former Notre Dame coach Gerry Faust reportedly has been talking with Youngstown State about the Ohio Valley Conference school's football coaching vacancy . . . Alabama has given Ray Perkins a three-year extension, 1988-90.