Bruce Pearl Suspended as Auburn Basketball Goes on Probation

The NCAA has placed the Auburn men’s basketball program on four years probation for unethical conduct involving former associate head coach Chuck Person and imposed a two-game suspension on coach Bruce Pearl for failing to monitor his assistant and adequately promote compliance.

An NCAA Committee on Infractions panel issued its findings Friday. The NCAA, however, mostly accepted Auburn’s self-imposed penalties in the case dating back to September 2017, when FBI agents arrested Person as part of a wide-ranging investigation into corruption in college basketball.

Pearl will be suspended the next two games for the 18th-ranked Tigers, Saturday against Nebraska in Atlanta and next Tuesday against North Alabama.

The report released by the infractions committee panel said Pearl “violated head coach responsibility rules because he did not adequately monitor the associate head coach and failed to promote an atmosphere of compliance.

“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.”

Pearl has had previous run-ins with the NCAA. Tennessee had fired Pearl in 2011 after the NCAA charged him with unethical conduct and then additional violations surfaced.

“The panel did take into consideration the previous show cause and decided it is an aggravating factor and was factored into the penalty for coach Pearl,” said Vincent Nicastro, the panel’s chief hearing officer and deputy commissioner and chief operating officer of the Big East Conference.

Pearl was in the final months of his show cause penalty when Auburn hired him.

“We respect the NCAA peer evaluation process and appreciate the panel recognized we took meaningful and contemporaneous penalties,” Pearl said in a statement. “It is time to put this behind us. As part of our penalty, I will begin my two-game suspension against Nebraska.”

The NCAA panel found that Person violated ethical conduct rules by accepting $91,500 in bribes from a financial advisor to steer prospects Austin Wiley and Danjel Purifoy to Auburn. The NCAA release didn’t name the coaches or players. The panel said the players or their families received more than $10,000 from Person.

“The associate head coach violated the trust of his student-athletes and their families,” the panel wrote in its decision. “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 did take into consideration the previous show cause and decided it is an aggravating factor and was factored into the penalty for coach Pearl,” said Vincent Nicastro, the panel’s chief hearing officer and deputy commissioner and chief operating officer of the Big East Conference.

Pearl was in the final months of his show cause penalty when Auburn hired him.

“We respect the NCAA peer evaluation process and appreciate the panel recognized we took meaningful and contemporaneous penalties,” Pearl said in a statement. “It is time to put this behind us. As part of our penalty, I will begin my two-game suspension against Nebraska.”

The NCAA panel found that Person violated ethical conduct rules by accepting $91,500 in bribes from a financial advisor to steer prospects Austin Wiley and Danjel Purifoy to Auburn. The NCAA release didn’t name the coaches or players. The panel said the players or their families received more than $10,000 from Person.

“The associate head coach violated the trust of his student-athletes and their families,” the panel wrote in its decision. “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.”

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