Auburn has told Bruce Pearl that if he does not cooperate with an internal investigation into its basketball program, he risks being fired. That’s according to ESPN, which reported Wednesday that the coach has refused to speak with attorneys retained by the school.
Those attorneys reportedly have not been able to determine whether Pearl has committed any NCAA violations because the FBI seized his computers and cellphones as part of the agency’s own wide-ranging probe into corruption in college basketball. Auburn fired assistant coach Chuck Person on Wednesday, one day after he was indicted by a federal grand jury, as were three assistant coaches at other schools.
Person and the other coaches have been accused of accepting bribes and steering top prospects and their families to preferred financial advisers, business managers and agents. The FBI investigation resulted in the arrests of 10 people in September, including executives at Adidas, and it led Louisville to begin the process of firing longtime head coach Rick Pitino.
ESPN reported that Auburn has not given Pearl a deadline to begin cooperating with its investigation, but that the school will make a decision on his continued employment “in the next week or two.” Pearl is set to begin his fourth season at Auburn, after having been fired from Tennessee in 2011 for lying to NCAA investigators about a potential recruit.
“This is an ongoing investigation, and everybody is working to try to get our players certified and eligible,” Pearl told reporters after practice Wednesday (via the Associated Press). “And you guys know, from the very beginning, I’m not allowed to comment on the process. But we are definitely working through this.”
Asked about his job security, Pearl said, “I am not concerned. . . . I am no more concerned than anybody else. We’ve got to get through this investigation, and I’m just looking forward to [the Tigers’ regular season opener] Friday night.”
An Auburn spokesman said that the school could not comment on Pearl because of the ongoing investigation. When Person was arrested in September, Auburn President Steven Leath said that the coach’s actions were those of “an isolated individual,” adding, “I don’t think there’s any indication at Auburn that anybody else knew about this.”
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