NEW ORLEANS — Auburn officials acknowledged Thursday afternoon that its basketball program is currently under investigation by the FBI, NCAA and SEC, but remained vague about the nature of the probe.
“Auburn officials were made aware of a rumor regarding an allegation two weeks ago and immediately reported it to the FBI, the NCAA and the SEC,” Auburn assistant athletic director Cassie Arner said in a statement released by the school. “Because of the nature of the allegation, Auburn is not in a position to make any further comment on the situation.”
Yahoo!Sports, citing multiple sources, reported earlier Thursday that Auburn is being investigated for an alleged points-shaving scheme planned by Varez Ward, a sophomore guard from Montgomery. Ward, who transferred to Auburn from Texas, has been suspended indefinitely for the last three games for “conduct detrimental to the team.” Fellow guard Chris Denson of Columbus was suspended at the same time but was reinstated after one game.
No members of the Auburn basketball team have commented yet on the point-shaving allegations. The Tigers (15-15, 5-11 SEC) and first-year head caoch Tony Barbee are scheduled to play Ole Miss (18-12, 8-8) at 7:30 p.m. in the first round of the SEC tournament.
Ward was the Tigers’ starting point guard and was averaging 9.0 points and 3.8 assists when Auburn suspended him.
The NCAA is clearly taking the accusations seriously.
“We are very concerned by the point-shaving allegations involving Auburn University men’s basketball program and have been in contact with the school and the FBI since the issue arose in February,” the NCAA said in a statement released to media outlets Thursday night. “The NCAA takes any allegation of point shaving very seriously because sports wagering threatens two of our core principles – the well-being of student-athletes and the very integrity of intercollegiate sport. As allegations of point shaving, if proven, are also potential federal crimes, the NCAA will defer action until any process with the FBI has concluded.”