Last week, I broke down in detail the FBI investigation into college basketball that was unveiled nearly three years ago. I appreciate your indulgence in allowing me to carry this over to today.
As we left off, I indicated Oklahoma State had received a postseason ban for the 2020-21 season by the NCAA for one Level I violation. Kansas is being accused of committing five Level I violations and logic dictates their sanctions will be proportionally severe.
What does this mean for Auburn? Should the Tigers be concerned?
Well, philosophically I suppose the answer is no. Worrying about something someone has absolutely no control over whatsoever is an exercise in foolishness. However, who among us hasn’t fallen victim to that very thing?
Should Auburn be concerned simply by the threat of stringent punishment by the NCAA? Honestly, I would have to say yes. I base that purely on the NCAA’s handling of Oklahoma State.
That’s not to say Auburn hasn’t handled the situation properly. In point of fact, it has gone above and beyond and punished itself more than any other school in the
country involved in the investigation.
Because the Tigers have never officially received, an NOA (notice of allegations) as far as I know, I can merely speculate on what charges they could possibly be facing.
Auburn was never officially accused of paying players to sign scholarships or play basketball for the university.
Chuck Person was accused of giving money to two players and their families in a scheme to steer them toward certain financial advisors when they signed contracts in the NBA. Person was immediately suspended upon the announcement of the investigation and was later terminated from his position as assistant coach. Both players were also immediately suspended and neither played during the entire 2017-18 season.
Auburn also self-imposed recruiting restrictions and did not sign a single recruit in the 2018 class. Technically, J’Von McCormick signed, but he was a transfer from the previous year and was sitting out the season due to NCAA transfer rules.
Again, the Tigers were incredibly proactive acting quickly and decisively. They cooperated fully with the NCAA and self-imposed more punishment on themselves than any other school I’m familiar with by far.
So, wait a minute. After all that, why am I concerned?
Well, let’s just say the NCAA has a very erratic record when it comes to doling out “justice.” Some of the most seemingly heinous violations in recent years have gone virtually unpunished. I’m looking at you, North Carolina.
Other schools have admitted mistakes but also introduced some exceptionally compelling circumstances and context — only to be throttled by the NCAA.
There’s another factor I hate to even mention, but I fear it’s relevance. There are some people in high positions in the game of basketball that do not like Bruce Pearl. That’s just simply the truth. I would certainly like to believe it won’t be a factor, but it’s a real possibility.
Quite frankly, I don’t know what more Auburn could have done. There’s still a lot more to unfold and the Kansas situation is of great interest.
Until then, I’ll just continue to be a typical Tiger fan. I’ll hope for the best and expect the worst.