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FBI investigating Auburn basketball for point shaving

Varez Ward has been the center of an FBI investigation that’s been ongoing since February into allegations he’s been shaving points in Auburn’s games.

Varez Ward has been the center of an FBI investigation that’s been ongoing since February into allegations he’s been shaving points in Auburn’s games.

AUBURN, Ala. — Federal authorities are investigating suspended Auburn point guard Varez Ward for alleged point shaving involving in at least two games this season, Yahoo Sports reported Thursday.

The report cited anonymous sources and said the FBI began an investigation in late February centering on losses to Alabama on Feb. 7 and Arkansas on Jan. 25.

NCAA officials say they are “very concerned” by the allegations and have been in contact with the school and federal investigators since the issue arose last month.

“The NCAA takes any allegation of point shaving very seriously because sports wagering threatens two of our core principles — the well-being of student-athletes and the very integrity of intercollegiate sport,” the NCAA said in a written statement Thursday. “As allegations of point shaving, if proven, are also potential federal crimes, the NCAA will defer action until any process with the FBI has concluded.”

Ward and guard Chris Denson were both suspended before a Feb. 25 game against Arkansas, but Denson returned for the next game. Denson was questioned and cleared of involvement in point shaving, the report said.

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

The report said a player reported concerns to an assistant coach in late February.

Auburn coach Tony Barbee has said only that Ward and Denson violated team rules, and he declined to address any allegations specifically after Thursday night’s loss to Mississippi in the opening round of the SEC tournament.

“Obviously our university released a statement which I totally support and stand behind, and obviously because of the nature of the allegations and the story, and because of the statement, I won’t be able to elaborate or answer any questions or make any further comment,” Barbee said.

Ward didn’t play in the final three games of the regular season or travel with the team to New Orleans for the Southeastern Conference tournament, where the Tigers lost their first round game, 68-54 to Mississippi on Thursday night.

Denson played 32 minutes and scored 11 points against the Rebels, but declined to speak with reporters after the game. His teammates also deferred comments to their coach.

Yahoo Sports reported that other Auburn players were questioned about whether Ward tried to get them to participate in the alleged point shaving.

Ward, a Texas transfer, has averaged 9.0 points a game and leads the Tigers in assists.

Ward scored three points and had six turnovers in the 68-50 loss to Alabama, playing 17 minutes. Vegas Insider said Alabama was favored by five points.

Ward lasted only 19 seconds after coming off the bench in the 56-53 defeat against Arkansas before crumpling to the floor. Barbee later said Ward took a knee to the right leg he had injured early in his sophomore season with the Longhorns, when he ruptured his quadriceps tendon on a dunk during pregame warm-ups. Auburn still covered the 9½-point spread.

In between those games, Ward had his hottest streak of the season. He scored 53 points in a three-game stretch, including 24 against Mississippi State.

Ward has not commented publicly since his suspension. His last Twitter post was on Feb. 24 when he tweeted, “Can’t win for losing smh” (shaking my head). It was the last in a series of posts that day, the first saying that his knee was “hurting bad.”

Ward sat out last season under transfer rules and has two years of eligibility remaining.

Comments

The_Dude 2 years, 1 month ago

No, NOT AT AUBURN!!!! It can't be. They would never cheat, right Cam?

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wartiger57 2 years, 1 month ago

@The_Dude:Yeah...one player trying to lose means Auburn was cheating.

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tywebb 2 years, 1 month ago

i'm going to assume you're serious.
it's a gambling thing. when a game is going to be played, a "line" or "point spread", comes out for the game, i.e. auburn by 10 over florida. if alot of people are betting on auburn to win by more than 10, the "bookie" will talk to one of the players and tell him, "hey kid, you make sure you guys don't win by more than 10 and i'll make it worth your while!" So, the player goes out there and maybe misses an easy shot, or throws the ball away, or "forgets" to guard his man, etc. so that the other team can keep it close (or even win). this way the bookie doesn't have to shell out a ton of money.
At least that is how I understand it. If i'm wrong, someone please correct me.

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LuLu 2 years, 1 month ago

Oooohhh.. okay. Thank you for assuming that I was serious, because I was. If they had thrown something into the story like "when a player throws the game on purpose", then I wouldn't have had to show my ignorance!

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cannot_believe_it 2 years, 1 month ago

If they would just "throw the book" at any of these guys...PERMANENT NCAA ban from any participation AND get the NBA involved...NOBODY sign the guy! I would bet it would stop. They should do that for ALL violations....make a statement: If you are stupid enough to try and cheat the system...then you can't be IN the system. Get the NFL, MLB, NBA...get them all to agree NOT to employ these idiots. I bet it would all come to a screaching halt. That includes coaches, too. NOBODY should employ them....

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The_Dude 2 years, 1 month ago

Let's not forget that Auburn's field is named after a verified cheater. The FBI has an office in Auburn for crying out loud. You might be a cheater if... Here's their sign.

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