Thursday, March 8, 2012

FBI reportedly investigating an Auburn basketball point shaving scandal

Yahoo! Sports’ “Angel of Death” Charles Robinson dropped a bomb this afternoon, just as the SEC Men’s Basketball Tournament kicked off. According to his sources, the FBI is investigating Auburn’s Varez Ward as part of a federal point shaving probe.

Robinson broke the news via his Twitter account.

Suspended Auburn University point guard Varez Ward is under investigation by federal authorities in an ongoing point-shaving probe, Yahoo! Sports has learned.

Three sources with knowledge of the case said the FBI has been investigating Ward since late February after he and guard Chris Denson were suspended by the Tigers prior to a Feb. 25 home game against Arkansas. Two sources said Denson was also questioned as part of the point-shaving investigation, but he was cleared of any wrongdoing and returned to the team after sitting out the loss to the Razorbacks. The sources said additional players have been questioned in the case about whether Ward – who has not been with the team since being suspended – attempted to enlist them in a possible scheme. The sources said at least two games are under scrutiny: a 68-50 loss to Alabama on Feb. 7 and a 56-53 loss to Arkansas on Jan. 25.

Messages left at the FBI’s field office in Auburn and divisional headquarters in Mobile were not returned. Auburn spokesperson Kirk Sampson did not return a call or text to his cell phone seeking comment. The NCAA also declined immediate comment. An email to Ward was not returned.

Ward has been suspended since late February. Now we know the likely reason for the suspension, and wasn’t Barbee smart to hold out on his contract, insisting that he not be penalized for NCAA (or presumably other) investigations.

Follow me on Twitter and Facebook.

Update: Auburn’s statement on the matter:

“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. Because of the nature of the allegation, Auburn is not in a position to make any further comment on the situation.”

Update: Charles Robinson speaks about his investigation with Craig Shemon. Click play to listen.