A former Texas A&M linebacker who applied to transfer to Arizona has accused his former program of violations including cash payments and illegal practices since Jimbo Fisher took over the program, USA Today reports.
In an effort to be immediately eligible at Arizona, Santino Marchiol, a four-star linebacker who redshirted last year during Kevin Sumlin’s final season in College Station, described in detail to USA Today instances of an assistant coach giving him cash in bathrooms to host recruits, practice sessions in violation of NCAA rules, coaches using demeaning language toward players and pressuring him to practice on an injured ankle.
Marchiol eventually decided to follow Sumlin, who is now the head coach at Arizona, and included the allegations he detailed to USA Today in a statement he sent to the compliance office at Arizona.
Marchiol would have to sit a year without a waiver
Per NCAA rules, transfers are required to sit out a year before retaining eligibility to play. But Marchiol is seeking a waiver to bypass that rule and is pointing to the alleged violations at Texas A&M to justify a waiver.
Marchiol has retained attorney Thomas Mars, who represented Michigan quarterback Shea Patterson, a transfer from Ole Miss who successfully gained immediate eligibility after claiming the Ole Miss staff misled him and other players about pending NCAA violations during the recruiting process. Marchiol and Mars appear to be attempting to expand the Patterson precedent by citing the allegations against Fisher’s staff as justification for a waiver.
Mars spoke with USA Today, but cited NCAA bylaws in choosing not to go into detail about the waiver implications of Marchiol’s allegations.
“At this time, commenting beyond what I’ve already said about the waiver process would appear to violate Article 19 of the NCAA bylaws,” Mars said. “Therefore, I won’t be able to answer any questions about the specific grounds for the waiver.”
Marchiol: Coach pulled me aside, gave me cash in the bathroom
Marchiol told USA Today about two separate occasions accusing linebackers coach Bradley Dale Peveto of pulling him aside to give him cash in bathrooms to entertain recruits, which would be an NCAA violation. Marchiol says that Peveto gave him $300 the first time and $400 the second time.
“There were coaches having meetings in the other office, and he said, ‘Here, come in the bathroom real quick’ because he’d just asked me to host the recruit,” Marchiol said. “So I went in the bathroom and it was just me and him in there, and he’s like, ‘Take this, if you need any more just text me and make sure they have a good time.’ … You know how you tip people in Vegas? He had the cash in his hand and he like handed it to us like, here (with a handshake).”
Marchiol describes long summer sessions under Fisher’s staff
Marchiol then described practice sessions after Memorial Day weekend that violate a 2014 NCAA mandate that forbid mandatory summer practice beyond eight hours a week. Marichiol said that new defensive coordinator Mike Elko even laid out the groundwork for the violations in a meeting.
“He said, ‘We’re going to have a lot of meetings and practices that aren’t technically required, but you guys have to be here because you’re way behind. We need to win,'” Marchiol said.
Marchiol described to USA Today four-day weeks during the summer that started at 9 a.m. and ended at 6:30 p.m. daily and included study hall, film study, conditioning sessions and “voluntary” 7-on-7 sessions that resembled full-on practices. Marchiol said that players frequently questioned the work load amongst themselves, but didn’t bring it up with Texas A&M compliance because “everybody was scared.”
Marchiol: Told to play on injured ankle
Marchiol told USA Today that the last straw before he transferred was when coaches required him to continue practicing on an injured ankle in June. He described hearing a “pop” when he landed on his right foot during a conditioning drill prior to practice and was not immediately able to put weight on it.
Marchiol said that director of athletic training Dan Jacobi told him to take four ibuprofens while athletic trainer Dalis Boyette taped his ankle and rubbed Tiger Balm on it. he said Jacobi told him to continue practicing, and that X-Rays would be taken after. After running sprints, Marchiol said that he couldn’t feel his ankle any more.
“Dan said there was no fracture but that it was a Grade 2 (ankle sprain) and there was probably some ligament damage,” Marchiol said. “I told him with the last staff I had this happen and I didn’t feel like I could be my best at practice. It was hard to even walk on. He made me feel stupid because he’d say something to reassure me but I know my body. My whole foot swelled up.”
Marchiol said that he continued to practice during the week and experienced significant swelling and bruising.
Marchiol: New coaches looking to change ‘soft’ culture
Marchiol, who is enrolled at Arizona and practicing with the football team, described the practices as part of a culture change under Fisher, who was signed to a 10-year, $75 million deal in the offseason, to toughen up the players from a previous regime he considered soft.
“They called us soft all the time,” Marchiol said. “They kept telling us, ‘This is gonna get worse, you haven’t seen s–t'”
His father Ken Marchiol backed up his son’s allegations.
“He called them a bunch of p——, said they weren’t worth a f—,” Ken Marchiol said. “It wasn’t teaching, just attacking.”
At SEC Media Days, Fisher, as he has many times, expressed how things need to change for the Aggies to reach their goals.
“In our short time in A&M, we’ve been there since December, I’ve been very busy trying to establish the things and put the culture in place in which we think we have to have to be successful in this league, as I know this is as good a league as there is in college football,” Fisher said.
“And we know that you’ll be challenged every week, so there’s a way in which you have to go about things and a process in which things have to be done to get the results in which you need. There’s no shortcut. Because, like I said, whatever you don’t — the i you don’t dot, the t you don’t cross gets exposed in this league they quickly.”
Fisher was also asked to address comments he purportedly made about the team he inherited being “soft.”
“No. I didn’t say — I just said we’re going to play tough. How they played, I have no idea. I just say we have to play with great toughness. We have to play with tremendous physicality. I think the teams in this league that win, the teams that win national championships, and the success we had at Florida State, that’s how we played,” he said.
“When I was in this league and we had success is when we had physical tough teams. When I was at Florida State, and we had tremendous success because we had tough physical teams. I think there’s a toughness factor that you have to have and a level that we have to get to.”
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