In 2017, news broke of a colossal scandal involving a number of college basketball teams. In Auburn’s case, assistant coach Chuck Person was caught accepting bribes in exchange for steering current players toward signing with certain agents and financial professionals as well as funneling money to current players’ families. Danjel Purifoy and Austin Wiley, both sophomores at the time, were implicated and suspended for a full year, while Person was summarily fired and later faced federal charges.
Fast-forward to 2020, and it appears that the long-overdue fallout may finally be approaching.
On Sunday night, just four days before the Tigers were slated to open their season against the Saint Joseph’s Hawks, Auburn officially decided to forgo any postseason competition for the year, meaning the program will not participate in the NCAA Tournament or the NIT, should they qualify for either.
The postseason self-ban is not the first penalty that Auburn has administered on itself in the wake of the FBI’s investigation into the sport. From September 2017 to April 2018, the administration self-imposed recruiting restrictions that led to the program landing just one prospect during the cycle: junior college transfer J’Von McCormick.
There has been a lingering feeling for some time that NCAA sanctions were on the horizon for the basketball program. The NCAA has for the most part dragged its feet dishing out punishments for the extensive scandals, with the first official Notice of Allegations (NOA) hitting the Arizona basketball program one month ago. According to Sunday’s press release, Auburn continues to fully cooperate with the NCAA’s investigation, and a year ago the university stated they expected to be charged with allegations at some point.
“It’s a two-year postseason penalty for [the players],” said Bruce Pearl in a statement, referring to losing the chance to compete in last year’s NCAA Tournament due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Still, Pearl said, he believes the self-ban to be the right move for the program.
The Tigers tip-off at 3:30 p.m. CST on Thanksgiving Day against Saint Joseph’s.