Wayne County High School superintendent of education Ben Graves released a statement on Monday afternoon in response to a report published Sunday regarding the NCAA’s accusations toward the Louisiana-Lafayette football program.
Former Ragin’ Cajuns assistant football coach David Saunders is alleged to be at the center of a major recruiting scandal. Saunders is being accused of manipulating ACT scores and paying cash to one recruit. According to The Daily Advertiser in Lafayette, the NCAA says Saunders directed six recruits on three separate occasions to a specific ACT testing center at Wayne County High School in February 2011 and arranged for former Wayne County ACT supervisor Ginny Crager to “complete and/or alter answers to improve test scoring.” He is also accused of having paid $6,500 to a student-athlete who played for ULL, which amounts to roughly $5,000 for living and educational costs while he was in junior college and then a separate one-time payment of $1,500 for housing expenses.
Graves said Wayne County is only responsible for providing the location of the ACT testing, not those who administer the test.
“The Wayne County School District only provides a facility for ACT Testing,” Graves said in a statement. “ACT is responsible for hiring, training, and paying and administrating all tests.”
According to the NCAA’s Notice of Allegations received by ULL, Saunders directed prospects to the testing center in Waynesboro for several years and had a pre-existing relationship with Crager. The NOA states the following from an interview transcript with Saunders: “Saunders’ statements that (1) he has informed prospects who have had difficulty finding an exam site with space available in their hometowns that Wayne County is a site that typically has space available near the date of the exam; (2) Wayne County is the only site he has informed prospects about during the past five years; and (3) he has known Crager since approximately 2005, and communicates with her regarding ACT dates and space availability at Wayne County.”
Saunders denied all of the allegations according to the NOA. He was terminated from his position at ULL in October 2014 and was hired in August as an assistant at Pearl River Community College.
Saunders has extensive ties to Mississippi. He spent three seasons as the head coach at Millsaps from 2003-05 and had three separate stints on staff at Ole Miss: recruiting coordinator (1998-2002), linebackers coach (2006) and football administrative assistant (2010).
The NOA also states that Crager was removed from her position by ACT in 2014 for “suspected impropriety in connection with the exam.” Crager became the ACT supervisor at Wayne County in the 1990s and “has not missed an ACT at Wayne County during that time,” according to the NOA.
There were 20 Mississippians on the Ragin’ Cajuns roster in 2011. Seven of the 20 were listed as redshirt freshman. The full list includes: Justin Hamilton (DT, Natchez), Christian Ringo (DL, Forest Hill), Mykhael Quave (OL, Gautier), Brandon Bender (OL, Jones County), Chris Prater (DE, Starkville), Dominique Tovell (LB, Columbia), Christopher Tucker (DE, Coahoma CC), Blake Comminie (DE, Mississippi Delta), Bernard Smith (DE, Northeast), Brett Baer (K, Brandon), Brandon Johnson (LB, Mendenhall), Eric Buckley (S, Water Valley), Le’Marcus Gibson (LB, Mississippi Gulf Coast), Qyendarius Griffin (RB, South Panola), Lionel Stokes (S, Co-Lin), Larry Pettis (TE, Oxford), Harry Peoples (WR, Holmes), Jemarlous Moten (CB, Mississippi Delta), Chris Frigo (OL, St. Stanislaus), Riley Saunders (QB, Mississippi State).
Contact Courtney Cronin at (601) 961-7091 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @CourtneyRCronin on Twitter.