Auburn basketball coach Bruce Pearl will be suspended for two games, and the program will be placed on probation for four years in connection with violations committed by former assistant coaches, the NCAA announced Friday. Auburn self-imposed a postseason ban last season in advance of the NCAA’s ruling, and the NCAA is honoring that penalty as part of its punishment.
The absence of an additional postseason ban and a relatively short suspension for Pearl is good news for Auburn, which has maintained that Pearl was not directly involved in the scandal. At the heart of the case is former Tigers assistant Chuck Person receiving bribes in exchange for his influence on players signing with certain financial advisors.
“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,” Pearl said in a statement. “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.”
Person’s misconduct was discovered in connection to the FBI sting on college basketball that rocked the sport in 2017. He received a 10-year show-cause for his actions.
“The associate head coach violated the trust of his student-athletes and their families,” the NCAA Division I Committee on Infractions said in a statement. “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.”
Auburn will also be hit with a $5,000 fine and 3% reduction in its men’s basketball budget. In addition to the self-imposed postseason ban from last season, Auburn also self-imposed other penalties such as scholarship reductions and various recruiting restrictions.
“We are pleased that a conclusion has been reached in this case,” the school said in a statement. “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 and compliance. As such, we accept all penalties and are ready to move forward.”
Person was sentenced to 200 hours of community service after being hit with a bribery conspiracy charge. It was found that Person took $91,500 in bribes during his time with Auburn.