So much for sitting down to watch a little of the SEC Tournament.
Yahoo! Sports is reporting that suspended Auburn point guard Varez Ward is currently under investigation by federal authorities as part of an ongoing probe into point-shaving.
That’s the air coming out of the SEC tourney balloon in New Orleans. Mike Slive, you’ve got a new crisis to handle. Auburn fans, well, get ready for another scandal and wall-to-wall news coverage.
Charles Robinson reports that:
“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.”
Ward is a native of Montgomery and transferred into Barbee’s program after beginning his career at Texas.
Oddly enough, we earlier today linked you to a story from The Opelika-Auburn News in which Tony Barbee talked about the state of his program and the improvements made since his first season. Whether it’s his fault or not, the words “point-shaving scandal” will be attached to his squad until the FBI’s investigation into Ward concludes… and perhaps even after depending on what they find.
ESPN has not always rushed to report stories broken first by other parties — namely Yahoo! Sports which is becoming the sports version of Woodward and Bernstein at this point. With ESPN partnering with the league — via it’s “SEC Network” syndication package — to air this week’s tournament, it will be interesting to see and hear just how much time the network dedicates to covering this new hurricane-sized cloud that hangs over Auburn and the Southeastern Conference.
All that said, Tiger fans are well aware that accusations don’t always result in players being found guilty when it comes to buzz-creating scandals. But when you add the words “point-shaving” and “FBI” together, there aren’t a whole lot of reasons to expect a positive outcome in this one.
The folks at the Federal Bureau of Investigation don’t need Danny Sheridan to come forward with a bag man to help them with their work.