AUBURN, Ala. — Auburn basketball starts its season in eight days, which means the program is quickly approaching decision-making time on who will be able to play in wake of the corruption scandal that involved assistant Chuck Person.
According to Auburn coach Bruce Pearl, no player who has any eligibility issues will suit up in a Nov. 2 exhibition game against Barry University. Matt Norlander of CBS Sports wrote this week, using an indirect quote, that Pearl told him Auburn would indefinitely suspend any player with eligibility issues.
“Pearl told me that, before the season starts, the school will absolutely vet everyone on its roster and indefinitely sit anyone that has any eligibility issues, if they arise,” Norlander wrote.
Two unnamed Auburn basketball players were referenced as part of a federal investigation into corruption in college basketball — one that led to the arrest of Person. The federal complaint against Person states the two players’ mothers received a combined $18,500 from Person and fellow defendant Rashan Michel.
In an interview session with local reporters Wednesday, Pearl said “I’m not even, I don’t even know if I said that” when asked about the indirect quote from Norlander.
Pearl then went on to say that he was “confident” no Tiger will play unless they’re eligible.
“I’m certain that as it relates to guys that are eligible to play, if they’re eligible to play, they’ll play,” Pearl said. “If they’re not, they won’t. Every year, you go through a vetting process, and you determine eligibility. Samir Doughty is not eligible because he transferred from VCU. If a player doesn’t perform academically, they could be ineligible.
“If there are other issues that could place their eligibility in question, they need to go through the process of vetting. So yes, I would certainly be confident that nobody will play unless they’re eligible.”
Auburn opened practice on Sept. 29, three days after Person’s arrest. No Auburn player has been missing from practice, although center Austin Wiley has missed most of the sessions with a leg injury.
On Wednesday, Pearl maintained his position that he doesn’t know the identity of the two unnamed players mentioned in the federal complaint. The Tigers begin the season a week from Thursday against Barry, a Division II school in Miami Shores, Fla.
“We’re getting closer,” Pearl said. “We play an exhibition on Nov. 2, so we’re going to need some clarity certainly before we start playing. … A player that would be ineligible could not be in the exhibition.”