By: Barrett Sallee | CBS Sports
August 21, 2018
Former Texas A&M linebacker Santino Marchiol is alleging that Texas A&M violated multiple NCAA rules under new coach Jimbo Fisher, according to a report from USA Today.
Marchiol, a rising redshirt freshman who followed former Aggies coach Kevin Sumlin to Arizona, claims that he was given cash by staff members to host prospects on unofficial visits, the new staff organized summer practices that are not permitted by NCAA rules and the staff pushed him to work through an ankle injury in an attempt to change the culture of the program. The cash was allegedly given to Marchiol by linebackers coach Bradley Dale Peveto on two separate occasions. He alleges that he received $300 in a bathroom from Peveto after the spring game, and $400 in June to host another prospect.
"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 told USA Today.
The remaining allegations both point to a culture change that Fisher has been trying to instill in College Station.
Marchiol claims that coaches were present during offseason conditioning far beyond the eight hours per week they are allotted under NCAA rules. The alleged practices included coaches operating as if they were normal practices that take place during camp, and Marchiol believes the coaching staff -- including defensive coordinator Mike Elko -- knew that it was breaking the rules.
"[Elko] 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 told USA Today.
Fisher was asked at SEC media days about comments he made prior to the event about the players being "soft" when he got to College Station.
"No. I didn't say [soft] -- I just said we're going to play tough," he said. "How they played, I have no idea. I have no idea and again did not refer to anything back. And it's hard to -- the way a coach plays his team until you understand and been in his shoes and understand that team, I think it's very hard to say anything about him. 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."
Marchiol's third allegation claims the staff rushed him back from an ankle injury that continued to swell in order to instill that
Fisher has been adamant about how things need to change in Aggieland ever since taking over the job.
"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," he said at SEC media days. "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."
This story came to light not because Marchiol held a grudge against his former school, but because he wants to play at his new one. He told USA Today that the NCAA is looking into the matter after he filed a waiver to gain immediate eligibility at Arizona due to new transfer legislation passed in April by the NCAA Division I Council.
Amendment 5 (a) allows players to receive a waiver for immediate eligibility if "the transfer is due to documented mitigating circumstances that are outside the student-athlete's control and directly impact the health, safety and well-being of the student-athlete."
As a result of the attempt to gain eligibility under that amendment, Marchiol documented the allegations in the waiver request, which is still pending according to USA Today.
Marchiol was a four-star prospect from IMG Academy in Florida in the class of 2017. Texas A&M opens the 2018 season on Aug. 30 against Northwestern State.