NCAA details Auburn basketball penalties

Auburn head basketball coach Bruce Pearl (Source: WSFA 12 News file photo)
Auburn head basketball coach Bruce Pearl (Source: WSFA 12 News file photo)
Published: Dec. 10, 2021 at 12:52 PM EST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind.. (WSFA) - Four years after Auburn University fired associate head basketball coach Chuck Person following his arrest by the FBI in a bribery scheme involving access to student-athletes, the NCAA’s Division I Committee on Infractions panel has handed down its penalties.

The penalties will include a program probation and the suspension of head coach Bruce Pearl. Some other penalties were previously self-imposed by the university and have already passed. They include:

  • Four years of probation.
  • A 2020-21 postseason ban for the men’s basketball team (self-imposed).
  • A $5,000 fine plus 3% of the men’s basketball program budget.
  • A reduction of one scholarship during the 2020-21 academic year (self-imposed). The program must reduce the total number of scholarships by two during the term of probation.
  • A reduction in the number of official visits in men’s basketball to 20 during the 2017-18/2018-19 rolling two-year period (self-imposed).
  • A ban on unofficial visits for 19 weeks during the 2017-18 academic year (self-imposed).
  • A ban on recruiting phone calls for a 20-week period during the 2017-18 academic year (self-imposed).
  • A reduction in the number of recruiting person days in men’s basketball by 82 days during the 2017-18 academic year (self-imposed).
  • A 10-year show-cause order for the former associate head coach. During that period, any NCAA member school employing him must restrict him from any athletically related duties unless it shows cause why the restrictions should not apply.
  • A one-year show-cause order for the former assistant coach. During that period, any NCAA member school employing him must restrict him from any athletically related duties unless it shows cause why the restrictions should not apply.
  • A two-game suspension for the head coach during the 2021-22 academic year immediately following the release of the panel’s decision.
  • A vacation of all team records in which student-athletes competed while ineligible.

“We are pleased that a conclusion has been reached in this case,” read a statement released by the Auburn Athletics Department. “For the last four years, Auburn has been proactive and cooperative with the NCAA enforcement staff and Committee on Infractions. We have been and will continue to be committed to NCAA rules compliance. As such, we accept all penalties and are ready to move forward.”

“I’m appreciative of Auburn University, our leadership, the AU family and our current and former student-athletes as we navigated through the challenges of the last four years,” the University added in a statement attributed to Pearl. “We respect the NCAA peer evaluation process and appreciate the panel recognized we took meaningful and contemporaneous penalties. It is time to put this behind us. As part of our penalty, I will begin my two-game suspension tomorrow against Nebraska.”

The NCAA announced the penalties after determining a former associate head basketball coach with Auburn University violated the association’s ethical conduct rules when he accepted bribes to influence student-athletes and their families. The NCAA did not include the names of those involved.

However, Auburn fired associate head basketball coach Chuck Person after he was arrested in 2017. He was among multiple defendants connected to a number of universities who were indicted and prosecuted on federal bribery, conspiracy and fraud charges. Person later pleaded guilty to the charges against him.

Person accepted $91,500 in bribes from a financial advisor in exchange for impermissibly influencing student-athletes and their families, according to a decision released by a Division I Committee on Infractions panel. He also gave benefits to two men’s basketball student-athletes and their families.

“The associate head coach violated the trust of his student-athletes and their families. Rather than protect them, he intentionally brought opportunists into the Auburn men’s basketball program and, using his influence, introduced them to the student-athletes and their families,” the panel said in its decision.

The NCAA also determined that head basketball coach Bruce Pearl “failed to adequately monitor the associate head coach and did not promote an atmosphere of compliance.”

The NCAA said “Specifically, the committee noted that the head coach’s monitoring efforts were tardy or limited in nature. In its decision, the panel cited several specific examples in which — despite the head coach’s claim to have monitored and educated his staff about NCAA compliance — other noncoaching staff members failed to report potential issues to the head coach or the compliance department. Further, when the head coach became aware of potentially problematic situations involving the associate head coach, he failed to ask reasonable and pertinent questions. These shortcomings allowed violations to go undetected.”

Copyright 2021 WSFA 12 News. All rights reserved.