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Friday, September 28, 2007

Franchione discontinues inside info newsletter for A&M boosters

Associated Press
Updated: September 28, 2007, 1:50 PM ET

COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- Texas A&M coach Dennis Franchione said he has stopped selling inside information on the Aggies in a newsletter to boosters who paid $1,200 per year in subscription fees that helped finance the coach's personal Web site.

About a dozen elite boosters subscribed for the past three years to the e-mail newsletter, called "VIP Connection." It offered Franchione's candid assessments of players and specific injury information, details Franchione routinely declined to discuss publicly because, he would say, it is not "our policy" to disclose injuries.

Franchione, who coached at New Mexico from 1992-97, made subscribers sign a confidentiality agreement and said he doesn't believe any of the inside information was used for gambling, the San Antonio Express-News reported in Friday editions after obtaining a copy of the newsletter through a "third-party source."

"We asked them to sign something," Franchione said. "And for them not to do that. Most of these people are tremendously loyal Aggies."

Athletic director Bill Byrne could not immediately be reached for comment by The Associated Press on Friday.

The newsletter was written by Mike McKenzie, Franchione's personal assistant. The two denied benefiting financially from the newsletter, although Franchione said proceeds were used to underwrite his personal Web site, coachfran.com.

In one newsletter, McKenzie wrote about six players being unavailable to play against Montana State and listed their specific injuries. A seventh player was "iffy" because he had not fully recovered from a mild concussion, according to the newsletter.

McKenzie also wrote about Franchione's assessment of the Aggies' wide receivers.

"Privately, Coach told me last night that Earvin (Taylor) and Pierre [Brown] are very steady but with average speed," McKenzie wrote. "Kerry [Franks] has great speed, but [is] inconsistent in receiving."

"The whole point of it was for them to be informed about the program, straight from the head coach," McKenzie said.

McKenzie referred to "VIP Connection" as "private correspondence between a head coach and the individuals involved."

Franchione, who makes about $2 million per year in a contract that runs through 2011, has offered refunds to the subscribers, McKenzie said.

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press


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