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Wow Headlines 6/8/2013

Mississippi State hit with two years probation by NCAA…
MSU will also lose two scholarships for upcoming school year as a self-imposed penalty
Former Auburn point guard Varez Ward pleads not guilty in alleged point-shaving scandal…faces trial in July
Alabama basketball player Devonta Pollard formally arraigned, facing charges in connection with kidnapping six-year old girl
Alabama and Georgia favored in all 12 regular season games, according to Las Vegas oddsmaker
Tennessee coach Butch Jones says running back Marlin Lane is “back with the team”
Stay in touch with SEC news year-round at MrSEC.com and on Twitter at Twitter.com/mrsec

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Former Auburn Basketball Player Indicted For Trying To Fix Game Against Arkansas

Point-shaving chargesAn indictment unsealed on Tuesday claims former Auburn point guard Varez Ward offered to pay teammates to participate in a point-shaving scheme.

Ward was arrested on Monday for trying to fix the point spread in a game against Arkansas in 2012.  Auburn lost the game 56-53 and was a 9 1/2 point underdog on the road against the Razorbacks.  Ward barely played after apparently injuring his leg 19 seconds after entering the contest.  Ward was suspended later that season after a player reportedly raised concerns with coaches. He never returned to play in another game for Auburn.

He is scheduled to be arraigned Thursday morning.  He’s charged with two bribe-related counts and faces up to five years in prison on each of the two counts. No co-conspirators are listed in the indictment.  Here’s the account from January of 2012 for the game in question.

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FBI Investigating AU’s Ward In Point-Shaving Case

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.

Pssssssssssssssssssssssss.

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.

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SEC Headlines – 2/7/12 Part Two

1.  Varez Ward is becoming a real leader for Auburn’s basketball team.

2.  Michigan has sold out its allotment of tickets for this fall’s season-opener against Alabama at Cowboys Stadium.

3.  Even without Marshawn Powell, Arkansas is playing itself onto the NCAA tourney bubble.

4.  Trent Johnson is trying to prepare his LSU team for a visit from battle-tested Vanderbilt.

5.  Forward Shaun Smith could be a big help to Mississippi State in the stretch run.

6.  Bo Wallace has an advantage in Ole Miss’ quarterback race.

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