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HS Coach Denies Payoff Charge

A high school football coach denies seeking $200,000 from college recruiters trying to sign a top athlete who ended up at the University of Alabama.

"It's totally false. If it sounds too good to be true, it is," Trezevant High coach Lynn Lang said of the allegations made to The Commercial Appeal by former assistant coach Milton Kirk.

The Commercial Appeal reported Wednesday that Lang sought money from Alabama and other schools to steer defensive lineman Albert Means their way. Means is a freshman at Alabama.

"It's not out of the blue," said Gene Marsh, Alabama's faculty representative for athletics. "The allegations have been known to us and the NCAA for several months. We've done a number of interviews."

The NCAA declined to comment.

Lang, Kirk and Memphis Melrose high school coach Tim Thompson were suspended Wednesday. School officials will decide later if the suspensions are with or without pay.

Kirk, who left Trezevant last year to become an assistant coach at Sheffield High, told the Memphis newspaper he expected to get paid, too, for helping Lang direct Means' choice of a college.

But Kirk said he did not get any money and Means did not know he was the subject of payoff discussions.

"Two-hundred thousand dollars cash. That was the number," Kirk said. He said Lang got the money, which apparently was to come from Alabama boosters.

Lang said Kirk "is not credible. He's always had a wild imagination, that's all."

Kirk said Lang talked with at least six other schools about paying for Means' services.

The Commercial Appeal said an assistant at one of those other schools, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Lang wanted $100,000 and two new automobiles for directing Means' choice.

Means' mother, Lisa Means, said Kirk's allegation was the first she had heard about any possible payoffs involving her son.

"You know I'm in shock right now," she said.

She said her son was trying to decide whether to stay in school.

"The boy is just confused right now," she said. "He's lost trust in the people he thought would be there for him."

The allegation involving Lang comes amid reports of an NCAA investigation at the University of Kentucky, possibly into attempted recruiting of athletes from Melrose High.

News reports say former Kentucky recruiting coordinator Claude Bassett directed money orders worth $1,400 to Thompson.

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