Tuesday, April 27, 2004
Basketball program also loses scholarship
AUBURN, Ala. -- Auburn's basketball program was put on two
years' probation on Tuesday, with the NCAA cutting one scholarship
but clearing the university of major rules violations.
Auburn was exonerated of accusations involving large sums of
money and expensive cars given to high school prospects Chadd Moore
and Jackie Butler. But the NCAA found that an AAU coach, Mark
Komara, was acting as a representative of Auburn when arranged to
wire $3,125 for Butler and get a 1996 Dodge Stratus for Moore.
Komara is believed to be the first summer league basketball
coach designated a representative of a school, said Thomas Yeager,
chairman of the NCAA's Division I Committee on Infractions.
The university, which denied the major accusations, already had
imposed its own penalties, including the loss of one scholarship
for the 2004-05 season. The NCAA cut that scholarship for 2005-06,
too, but did not ban postseason play or televised games.
"I think it's always disappointing to be called to task by any
organization in which you have violated established regulations,"
Auburn interim President Ed Richardson said. "But I think that it
was clearly identified that the sanctions that were provided, we
feel were justified."
Hal Baird, athletics assistant to the president, said the
sanctions were severe enough to invoke a clause that adds an eighth
year to the contract of new coach Jeff Lebo.
The NCAA cleared Auburn assistant coach Shannon Weaver of
offering $50,000 and a car to Moore's mother. Auburn also was found
innocent on charges of offering Butler $70,000 and a car worth more
"The committee found that much of the information associated
with these allegations was in conflict and thus was not sufficient
to support findings," Yeager said.
Neither player made official visits to Auburn, and the
university had maintained that neither was offered a scholarship.
Both were sophomores at the time of the alleged offers.
Auburn provided records to the NCAA that the university
maintains show Weaver was actually under the care of a dentist in
Scottsboro when he allegedly made the offer to Moore's mother,
Coach Cliff Ellis, who was not implicated by the NCAA, was fired
March 18 and replaced by former Chattanooga coach Jeff Lebo.
Moore and Butler played summer ball for Komara, who the NCAA
alleged was a representative of Auburn and was involved in improper
Yeager said there was ample evidence to show Auburn coaches'
contact with Komara surpassed their relationships with others
involved in recruiting. Among the examples he cited were telephone
records showing Auburn coaches made more than 1,100 calls to Komara
and fewer than 200 to others involved with recruiting. Yeager also
said Auburn coaches helped make hotel and airline reservations that
Komara paid for.
Although the NCAA acknowledges high school and summer league
coaches play a special role in college recruiting, Yeager said,
Komara's actions exceeded that role.
Mike Walker, a Mississippi sports agent, made the initial
allegations in March 2001.