Auburn announced on Thursday that two of their three best players will be sitting out at the start of the season due to the FBI’s investigation into corruption in college basketball.
“To avoid any potential eligibility issues, Auburn Athletics has decided to hold men’s basketball players Austin Wiley and Danjel Purifoy out indefinitely,” a statement from Auburn athletics read. “Because this is related to an ongoing investigation, we cannot comment further at this time.”
After Auburn made this announcement, they lost a home exhibition to Division II Barry University, 100-95, in overtime.
Pearl elaborated on the reason for holding the players out after the game.
“It’s an ongoing investigation, and it’s got to run its course,” Pearl said. “We will be able to determine their eligibility over, hopefully, a short period of time. We’re still not in a position that we can determine their eligibility yet, so therefore, out of caution, they weren’t eligible to play.”
“It’s indefinite, which means it could be short, or it could be longer,” Pearl said. “We don’t know, because we don’t know the details. They weren’t able to play today because we couldn’t certify them as eligible. I hope we’re going to be able to. If we are, then they will play. If we can not, they won’t.”
Auburn’s link to the scandal came in the form of former assistant coach Chuck Person. Person is alleged in the FBI’s complaint to have received more than $90,000 in bribes in exchange for exerting his influence on two players currently on the Auburn roster. Person then told Marty Blazer, the financial advisor that the FBI turned into a cooperating witness, that he gave $11,000 to the mother of Player-1 and $7,500 to mother of Player-2. Another defender, Rashan Michel, allegedly gave $5,000 to the mother of Player-2 as well.
Wiley is a 6-foot-11 center that has been battling injury this offseason. He’s a potential first round pick that averaged 8.8 points and 4.7 boards last season after enrolling in January. Purifoy is a redshirt sophomore that averaged 11.5 points adn 4.7 boards last year.
This may not be the last time we see a program take a step like this. USC and Arizona both have players linked to payments given to assistant coaches that have since been fired. USC did not play De’Anthony Melton in their secret scrimmage against San Diego State. Melton was not named in the criminal complaint, but he fits the description of one of the players involved: sophomore returning to school with NBA Draft potential. USC does not have any exhibitions on their current schedule.