The Auburn Tigers are apparently hoping self-imposed sanctions will help the basketball program avoid heavy-handed justice wielded by the governing body of college sports.
AL.com is reporting the program placed itself on a secret, self-imposed probation; not allowing any visits, contacts, evaluations or phone calls with recruits from September 2017 to April 2018.
Again, this information is only coming to the surface now, well after the Tigers took the top secret approach.
The self-imposed sanction stems from former Tigers assistant Chuck Person being caught up in the now infamous FBI scandal. Person was accused by the government of accepting $91,500 in bribe money for steering players to financial institutions.
As a tactic often used by programs when knowing the NCAA is about to set its keen eyes toward it, Auburn is hoping to use the self-imposed sanctions as a way to offset harsher judgement from those tasked with overseeing the investigation, then inevitably dishing out some form of punishment.
Consequentially, this is where things begin to get murky for the Tigers.
Auburn is in a unique spot in comparison to other schools allegedly involved in breaking NCAA bylaws.
Every university involved in the FBI scandal can use the government’s own tactics in going after Person judicially, calling the schools “victims” in the entire scheme, as it was the only way they could possibly prosecute the alleged bagmen involved, allowing the Tigers to lay claim to being on the wrong side of a bad apple’s sole ventures.
Like other programs in the midst of scandal, Auburn can play the role of victim. After all, the literal United States government painted each school as such when going after those they believed had cheated schools out of money and future players.
Ultimately, that’s the silver lining in this otherwise gloomy cloud.
At the exact same time Auburn tries to paint itself a causality to a lone wolf’s actions, however, head coach Bruce Pearl enters the fray with excessive baggage, once infamously caught up in a BBQ scandal that saw him eventually get hit with a three-year show clause by the NCAA.
Nevertheless, none of the extracurricular tomfoolery has stopped the Auburn Tigers from not only the now known self-imposed penalties, but from going on the offensive by hurling all of the blame toward one man no longer with the men’s basketball program.
“As a result of Person’s misconduct, Auburn expects to receive a formal Notice of Allegations from the NCAA in the coming months,” a school released statement read. “While Auburn believes the NCAA investigation to date has only confirmed that any staff misconduct was isolated to Person – and that his misconduct was committed in a way so as to avoid Auburn’s detection – the University will still have to navigate the enforcement process to an ultimate conclusion, a process that may drag into yet another basketball season.”
The extent of how much the self-imposed sanctions will actually help isn’t yet known, but even if it curtails the slightest amount of the sterner punishment Auburn expected from the NCAA, it’s a win.
From a neutral observer’s standpoint, though, it’s hard to avoid acknowledging the beauty of it all. Auburn’s ability to inflict these sanctions onto itself, without anyone knowing until now, is a victory.
The program managed to publicly save face during the entire fiasco, while making a magical NCAA Tournament run to the Final Four in the process, without anyone ever the wiser it was already taking drastic steps to get ahead of potential sanctions from the governing body of college sports.
Can’t help but appreciate the hustle.
Editor’s note: This column first appeared on Forbes, but has been republished under the original author’s name at CBBToday thanks to the publisher-contributor agreement.
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