In the fall of 2017, when four college basketball assistant coaches were arrested and charged with federal crimes related to nefarious recruitment practices, bribery and wire fraud, Auburn -- which was implicated by its assistant coach Chuck Person's indictment -- self-imposed harsh recruiting restrictions which were not made public until now. AL.com reported Wednesday that Auburn stopped recruiting by not allowing any official and unofficial visits, contacts, evaluations or phone calls from September 2017 to April 2018.
The self-imposed punishment perhaps could lessen any possible NCAA sanctions related to Person's involvement in the scandal.
And make no mistake: the NCAA does, indeed, have its sights set on Auburn. In a "victim statement" revealed in Person's sentencing last month Auburn said itfrom the NCAA "in the coming months" related to the case.
As a result of Person's misconduct, Auburn expects to receive a formal Notice of Allegations from the NCAA in the coming months. 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. Despite the fact that the NCAA has already imposed what Auburn believes are sufficient penalties for those student-athletes affected by Person's misbehavior, the possibility exists that Auburn's athletics department and/or men's basketball team could face further sanction and penalties from the NCAA's Committee on Infractions.
Auburn's proactive self-imposed sanctions could help with the NCAA in its infractions case, but may not give coach Bruce Pearl and his Tigers program complete exemption from further NCAA sanctions down the road.
Pearl said earlier this summer in an interview with CBS Sports' Jon Rothstein: "I am anticipating that we are not finished completely," Pearl said. "I am anticipating because we have gotten through a lot of things with the NCAA, obviously with the federal government, that case is closed. But I would [anticipate] that we would have to finish some things up. I do feel like the worst is behind us."