The Auburn men’s basketball team was placed on two years’ probation by the NCAA on Monday for recruiting violations and will not be eligible for postseason play this season.
The sanctions also include restrictions on recruiting and scholarships and the reassignment of assistant coach Ralph Radford, who was the focus of the two-year investigation that began only a few months after Coach Tommy Joe Eagles was hired.
Eagles said he was embarrassed by the situation and vowed to make the best of it.
“I didn’t come to Auburn to jeopardize this school’s program, my staff or myself,” he said at a news conference. “We made errors in judgment and errors of compassion. . . . I admit we were wrong.”
The Auburn men’s tennis team also was given two years’ probation for violations of the “extra benefits” rule committed by former coach Hugh Thomson and his staff.
But the NCAA Committee on Infractions did not find a lack of “institutional control” over the athletic program, which could have resulted in more severe penalties. NCAA officials also praised Auburn for cooperating with the investigation.
The Auburn football team has been the subject of allegations by a former player that he received illegal benefits.
Chuck Smrt, an NCAA director of enforcement, said Auburn would not be eligible for the so-called death penalty because the alleged violations in the football program occurred before the completion of the basketball and tennis inquiries. But, he added, the football team could face more severe sanctions because of this case.
The infractions committee found a number of recruiting violations in the basketball program: providing gifts and benefits; offering to assist in obtaining a car loan; exceeding the number of allowed visits; falsifying the time when a national letter-of-intent was signed; and providing improper transportation.
“We had a very hectic schedule and limited experience in this kind of situation,” Eagles said. “That created an environment for this to happen.”
Auburn hasn’t had a winning season since 1988 and has gone 26-34 in Eagles’ first two seasons.