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Report: Former Texas A&M LB alleges potential NCAA violations as he pursues a transfer waiver

The allegations by Santino Marchiol could impact all of college football.

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NCAA Football: SEC Football Media Day Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Add another potential scandal to the ongoing drama in Columbus and College Park — on Tuesday, USA Today Sports published a story in which former Texas A&M Aggies linebacker Santino Marchiol made substantial allegations against head coach Jimbo Fisher and his staff in pursuit of a transfer waiver.

A consensus four-star prospect from Colorado who signed with the Aggies as part of former head coach Kevin Sumlin’s 2017 recruiting class, Marchiol left College Station in the middle of July. He’s since rejoined Sumlin in Tucson as a member of the Arizona Wildcats program.

At the core of the story are allegations that could trigger NCAA sanctions levied against Fisher, who hasn’t even coached a game yet after signing a 10-year, $75-million contract with the Aggies late last year.

In an effort to preserve a season of eligibility — Marchiol redshirted during his first season at Texas A&M — the linebacker submitted a statement to the Arizona compliance office that made the allegations revealed Tuesday.

Those allegations are significant, but also unsurprising.

On two different occasions this spring, Marchiol says that he was approached by linebackers coach Bradley Dale Peveto, who gave him $300 and then $400 in order to host key recruits on unofficial visit weekends. If true, the allegations would violate NCAA regulations that provide only $40 to student hosts for official visits.

“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.’ ”

Marchiol also alleged that Texas A&M coaches sought to circumvent NCAA regulations limiting mandatory workouts and contact with players during the offseason to eight hours per week:

What Marchiol described, however, was more akin to a full-time job: Four days a week he would show up at the Texas A&M football facility at 9 a.m. for study hall and online classwork, not leaving until well after 6:30 p.m. In between, he described linebacker meetings to review film and discuss schemes that lasted between one and two hours and required conditioning sessions that lasted up to three hours (a schedule he provided showed his group had workouts scheduled from 1 p.m. to 2:45 p.m. on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, but he said they frequently lasted longer).

In addition, Marchiol alleged verbally abusive behavior by the new coaching staff, as well as mistreatment of an ankle injury.

All of that in an effort to effect culture change in College Station, a situation that sounds a lot like the ongoing Maryland scandal that could cost head coach DJ Durkin his job. The Terrapins head strength and conditioning coach and two athletic trainers were fired in the immediate aftermath of an explosive ESPN story as the university continues its investigation.

Of course, the consequences of the alleged malfeasance at Texas A&M were much less significant than at Maryland. Still, Marchiol’s allegations detail yet another program willing to skirt or ignore the rules and push players past their limits, all in the name of winning football games.

More significantly, Marchiol’s story could represent the a seismic shift in college football. With new transfer rules set to come into effect in October that remove the ability of schools to restrict the destinations for former players, other transfers could emerge in the future who use malfeasance at their old school to help gain transfer waivers to play immediately.

The consequences could be serious for programs across the country. Head coaches and assistants who verbally abuse players, want to entertain recruits on visits by passing illicit money to student hosts, or provide inadequate medical treatment for legitimate injuries in the name of fostering toughness must be aware that those actions could come back to haunt them if those players eventually decide to transfer.

So the big story here isn’t that a Longhorns recruiting rival could be subject to NCAA sanctions as a result of these allegations. The big story here is that given the prevalence of all of these actions across college football, the Aggies aren’t the only program that could come under scrutiny.

Moreover, while athletics director Chris Del Conte and head coach Tom Herman have both gone on record recently about their desire to operate within the current exploitative system in college football, and college sports more generally, it’s becoming increasingly clear that the current system needs to change.

Until college football players are fairly compensated, the code of silence that once limited discussions of the movement of money from boosters or assistants to players or recruits to the margins and the message boards could continue to disintegrate.

And that should be yet another wakeup call to every program across the country.