Money has the power to influence everyone’s decision in life. Money could even force each individual to second guess themselves, especially when they are desperate. Free agent defensive end Stanley McClover was no exception.
In McClover’s words, he humbly admitted he accept money while playing football for Auburn University. Was he the only one? Well, knowing without truly knowing, absolutely not.
When money is involved in a shaky situation, most individuals would keep quiet because they fear for their life, loyalty or reputation. In terms of being paid-for-play in collegiate sports, McClover was one of the few individuals who stated that he received money to playing college football.
McClover revealed his acceptance (along with three players in Troy Riddick, Raven Gray and Chaz Ramsey) of the cash on the HBO’s award-winning sports series, Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel, which aired March 30, 2011.
News about McClover’s remarks flood the internet and newsstands across America since his public acknowledgment of receiving cash benefits. As expected, some supported him, while others did not. Immediately followed were denials of McClover’s allegations from Auburn, LSU and Michigan State, institutions he mentioned in his segment on Real Sports.
Without talking to him personally, news types developed their opinions about McClover. Believing that the media wanted his story to pervert other motives, McClover declined to speak of his personal experience about college recruitment and his college career—until now.
“It basically started like this, in the recruitment process when you got a kid who has a lot of talent and everyone knows that this kid is talented, you know it, the coaches know it, the neighborhood knows, everybody knows that,” said McClover, in a one-on-one conversation.
“When a kid gets to that level, it can become very dangerous for a kid at that time because everybody wants to be a part of that winner, that winning circle. So when I fell into it after having a pretty good high school (Dillard High School) career as my coach at that time (Ken Scott) did a great job coaching me.”
“I did not have a lot of discipline when I was coming up,” he added. ”So I was a little loose and I was a little out there. I started going to a lot of camps and whatever. When I was offered money while I was at camps, I looked at it as a blessing for me at the time because I didn’t have nothing, I didn’t have money coming up. I wasn’t able to buy Jordans and anything and my mom, a single parent mother, it was tough on us. So when anyone offered me anything, I would take it, thinking it could mess me up.”
As McClover looked back on his decision of taking money from schools, the one thing he regret was allowing himself to hinder his dream. The talented athlete from Fort Lauderdale was headed to Ohio State, until the all-mighty dollar changed his mind.
“I had my eyes set on going to Miami or Ohio State,” said McClover. “That’s where I naturally wanted to go. That was my dream, to go play college football at. That was my goal and that’s all I wanted to do. When Auburn came into the picture, I never knew who Auburn was. I didn’t have a clue about Auburn’s history, didn’t know nothing about their players…I didn’t know nothing about Auburn.”
“All I knew that Auburn was willing to give me money to come to their school,” he continued. ”I’m not proud about the decisions I made, far as taking money from schools, because at the end of the day, it hurt me more than the school because the school is always going to be there. I took a bad name and a lot of negative things came with taking all that money. I felt like I owe the school, like I sold my soul for taking that money. It was one of those things where I committed to Ohio State University and word got to Auburn, and I don’t know how the news got to Auburn so quick, but when they find out that I committed to Ohio State, they offered me money and I took it.”
“At the time, I thought I felt I was doing something, a big dawg, getting money for going to school,” he added. “I didn’t think about what I was doing. But when I got to Auburn, I realized that wasn’t the school I wanted to be at, but since I took money from the college, I felt like I owe that college to attend.”
“I feel like this is a part of the problem now at colleges when these kids get offered money. They feel that they owe that college, that coach to come to their school, meaning the kid is not coming to the school of their choice, where their heart is at. They are going to the school that is paying them the most money.”
McClover attended Auburn from 2003 to 2006 and was originally selected by the Carolina Panthers in the 2006 NFL Draft. So, McClover was able to get to the NFL, like he dreamed he would. However, when McClover looks back, attending Ohio State was a dream he destroyed, due to the stage he was at in his life during the time.
Nevertheless, the alleged actions of schools that funded McClover money were at fault as well as they had their motives of getting ahead of the competition at the expense of talented, but needy kids.
“It all comes down to college coaches being on players and that’s not right,” said McClover. “So I was caught in the middle of that. But at the time, everything seemed cool being young at 18-years-old. It was cool getting money from college because I didn’t have anything.”
“At the time, it was beneficial for me to take money from Auburn,” he added. ”At the end, it was not the best decision for me because, naturally, I did not want to go to Auburn. I wanted to go to Ohio State because that’s where I committed to.”
When McClover appeared on Real Sports to tell his story, his reasoning was not to attack Auburn. His purpose was to be an example of what not to do. In addition, a producer of Real Sports was intrigued with McClover’s story and asked him to share his testimony.
“I was asked (by a producer) how I felt about college players getting paid,” said McClover. “He was intrigued by my answer. He wanted to know what my story was. I told him my story, he was intrigued about my story and he put me in the episode. No one paid me money and no one made me do it.”
“When I made the decision to do the show on HBO to let people know my story, I was not personally attacking LSU, Auburn and I was not personally attacking Michigan State,” he added. “This is a testimonial, man. This was about somebody doing something wrong and learned their lesson. I’m not glorifying that I took money from those schools.”
“Use my story as a testimony, use my story as an example of what not to do,” he continued.
“When people approach you with that money, have morals, have a say-so in your future. Don’t go to a school because someone offered you money because, at the end of the day, if your heart’s not in it, you won’t be happy. And when that money runs out, you still won’t be happy.”
Throughout the conversation with McClover, he was calm, but extremely passionate with each spoken word. Clearly, there was one issue that deeply hurt him. The reaction he received from his former teammates, his friends, after doing Real Sports.
Football players share a special bond like no other athletes. Although football players are a far cry from the armed forces, as men and women put their lives on the line for this country, footballers use terms like war, battle and soldiers, relative to the military, because each play on the field has the potential to be their last performance because of the physicality of the sport.
They must have each other’s backs in order to succeed and avoid physical consequences, similar to the armed forces. For McClover to not have the support of the guys he played with, who may quietly experienced what McClover faced, devastated him the most.
“This was a situation where a lot of my friends turned their back on me,” said McClover. ”Even a lot of those dudes I went to war (yelled) with. I went to war with a lot of those dudes that came out in the newspapers talking about me saying I was lying and what not. And it’s like; I had no reason to make this up. I pointed the finger at nobody, but myself. So I don’t understand how I’m a bad guy when I never blamed nobody, never mentioned nobody but Stanley McClover’s name and what I did wrong.”
“So, it hurt me to hear all these players come back at me and saying a lot of the things because nobody went through that,” he continued. “No one walked in my shoes. I was the only recruit for Fort Lauderdale when I was there. So you can’t tell me…they don’t know my life. It was something I believed. This is my life and I wanted to tell the truth about my life and the truth is always right.”
After McClover went to the NFL, he started his foundation, Big Brothers United—a non-profit organization to influence kids’ lives on and off the field, using his mistakes as a foundation.
“These kids need an example on how to be a man and what it takes to make the right decisions,” said McClover. “I created that (Big Brothers) when I got to the NFL because of my past experiences. Not just football, but in my life, period.”
According to McClover, there is a lesson to be learned regarding the recruitment process. When asked is the recruitment process fair, McClover laughed and gave a full blunt detail of what goes on in recruiting.
“There’s a lesson to be learned here, if you don’t pay attention to the college recruiting process, your kid can get caught up into that,” said McClover. “Your kid could want to go to LSU, he could have watched LSU all his life, but here comes Oregon offering $10,000. What school is he going to? He’s going to Oregon. And the minute he doesn’t get what he was promised at Oregon, he will be an unhappy kid. It’s a shame that people will look down on people for telling the truth, but that’s what’s going on in college football, whether if they want to believe it or not.”
“Everybody’s getting money under the table, everybody’s doing money handshakes, everybody’s doing it,” he added. “So to me, it’s the people that don’t talk about it who want this to go on. But a person like me, my mission to the kids is you don’t have to take money, earn it. Go to school four-years in college and earn your money from the NFL.”
“You will earn your shot to get money, you will have a chance,” he continued. “When you take money, you are growing up fast. There’s no need to grow up fast. These kids got to grow up at the time they suppose to. The money thing is a very dangerous and a powerful tool that is used against lots of kids. This situation mentally destroyed me as a person because I lived in a false sense of reality. I was thinking life was one way when it’s totally the opposite.”
McClover may have another solid reason why players leave the college ranks early to go to the next level, which has never been spoken of.
“Everything was interpreted the wrong way, man. People have missed the big picture here and it’s a big picture here,” said McClover. “The recruitment process is not recruiting anymore. They are using all types of things to entice kids to come to their school, and at the end of day, you have a confused child who don’t know where he wants to go because he did all the wrong things to go to school.”
“So, that’s the problem at hand,” he continued. “This is why kids are leaving early because they all are at a place where they don’t want to be. And it all starts with the recruitment process.”
McClover made it no secret that he did not want to go to Auburn. Instead of being miserable about being a Tiger, however, McClover made the most out of his situation. He became a First-Team All-SEC and Second Team All-American in 2004 and earned Honorable mention All-SEC in 2005.
McClover is truly grateful for his experiences as it made him a better man and he wants Auburn fans to know how much he loves them.
“I’m thankful for everything that happened in my life,” said McClover. “I’m thankful for every decision that I made because all my mistakes I learned from. I learned valuable lessons from every mistake. I don’t consider Auburn as being a mistake because I met some great people from there. I had a chance to get to the NFL from Auburn. I had great coaches at Auburn; I enjoyed my time and had great teammates.”
“I have no problem with Auburn, whatsoever,” he added. “I love Auburn. All my fans at Auburn, that are true fans of mine, they know I’m a very passionate player. I went hard and I go hard. Again, I have nothing against Auburn.”
A positive result has come out of this chapter in McClover’s life, the relationship he regained with Scott, his coach high school.
Scott and McClover were able to patch things up and moved forward. Last season, McClover help coached with Scott at Hilliard High School. Unfortunately, according to McClover, he has not heard from his friends and former teammates.
Is McClover a snitch?
No, because he never named names, just told on him. Most of the information McClover disclosed about the bad side of college sports is not new news, but it’s refreshing to actually hear from someone who lived this controversial world of college football.
Will money handshakes and paid-for-player methods continue in collegiate school? Absolutely! As long as the need to win and the greed to increase profit in order to compete, money cash will determine who wins and who loses.
For McClover, his football career is not over as he continues to dream on. The talented, 27-years old Florida native missed last season due to a major knee injury. He is 100 percent healthy, hired a new manager in Victor Robenson, CEO of V Sports Marketing Group. Inc, and is ready to give a team the spark they need to help stop some of these explosive squads in the NFL.
The dispute of McClover receiving money from Auburn, LSU and Michigan may continue, but for him, it is over as he dealt with his situation properly. This is why McClover can sleep at night.
“I have no reason to attack Auburn, I went to the NFL,” said McClover. “I’m not bitter at all. I have no bitterness towards nobody. I played four years in the NFL. This is my life, and this is what happened. I’m a truthful person and I’m going to be real.”
“I knew a lot of people were not going to like the truth and I was ready for that. I can sleep at night.”