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Amateur coach alleges recruiting violations

September 12, 2012

By MICHAEL WARDLAW
sports@starkvilledailynews.com

An amateur football coach accused a former Mississippi State University booster of several NCAA violations involving freshman Will Redmond’s recruitment Wednesday.

Byron De’Vinner, a Nashville-based amateur 7-on-7 football coach, accused former MSU booster Robert Denton Herring of providing Redmond with cash and apparel in addition to providing meals and accommodations for De’Vinner.

De’Vinner made statements Wednesday to Yahoo! Sports and also a Mississippi call-in sports radio show.

In the Yahoo! Sports report, additional details were revealed in regard to alleged recruiting irregularities, including the linking of Herring to the incidents under investigation by NCAA and MSU officials.

Two weeks ago, MSU officials announced their cooperation with an ongoing NCAA investigation surrounding recruitment irregularities and also said the university had distanced itself from an unnamed booster.

The name of the booster in question was redacted from legal documents released by the university, and the recruit’s identity was never confirmed by the officials. Those documents said the unnamed booster was refunded for all donations to MSU athletics for the 2012 year, including the cost of his season tickets and qualifying donation.

“We walk out there, we get to (Herring), they shake hands and Will introduces me to him,” De’Vinner said to Yahoo! Sports. “We have something to eat at the tailgate, and he tells Will to come back to the tailgate after the game. He has some gas money for him. After the game was over, we go back out there and he gives Will the traditional handshake. Will didn’t know what the heck was going on. He tells Will, ‘Shake my hand.’ He put the money inside Will’s hand. It was probably $150, $200. I’m just guessing how much it was. We get in the car and I told Will, ‘You take this … to your grave.’ The guy was introducing us to other boosters and stuff, saying they were glad to have him at Mississippi State.”

De’Vinner claims to have stayed at West Point’s Old Waverly Golf Club during one of his visits to Starkville, and Herring assured De’Vinner accommodations would be provided.

While Old Waverly officials opted not to comment on the matter due to their status as a private club, a spokesman said they would cooperate completely with any investigation MSU or the NCAA would conduct into the matter.

Herring, a federal government employee based in Atlanta, is a MSU alumnus who was considered a booster for a relatively short period of time prior to being disassociated from the university earlier this year.

According to the Yahoo! Sports report, De’Vinner said he believes Angelo Mirando, MSU’s former wide receiver coach who resigned for personal reasons, was the only university member who knew of the recruiting issues surrounding Herring.

Herring also served as a moderator of the non-university sports site Bulldawgs247. Site Publisher Paul Jones issued a statement acknowledging Herring’s role with Bulldawgs247.

“I do know the booster in question with these allegations and have talked football and recruiting with him (Herring) like I do with numerous MSU fans,” Jones said. “Before last week, I had no prior knowledge of what may have happened or not as far as this booster being investigated by MSU and the NCAA.

“Early last week, it was hinted to me by the booster in question that he (Herring) may be asked questions or investigated,” Jones added. “Then on Friday, he said he would be involved in the investigation and would be questioned by MSU and the NCAA.”

De’Vinner also explained the process in which he claimed he applied for and interviewed with MSU for a position vacated by Mark Ouimet following the 2011 season. While he said he felt qualified for the position, MSU went in a different direction.

Later on Wednesday, De’Vinner said Herring was involved in the recruitment of as many as 10 players on MSU’s radar.

“He has been involved with recruiting up to 10 current and former Mississippi State players,” De’Vinner said.

MSU officials had no comment on the matter in regard to any involvement Herring may or may not have had.

During a Southeastern Conference teleconference Wednesday morning, MSU head coach Dan Mullen was asked about the situation with Redmond and said the NCAA was handling the matter and he would have no comment.

Mullen did not say whether Redmond would dress out or not for this week’s game against Troy on the road, but being a freshman, he did not dress out for the first two home games of the season.

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