Auburn assistant coach Chuck Person was suspended without pay, effective immediately, the university announced Tuesday afternoon. The suspension comes following Person’s arrest after facing six federal charges, including corruption, stemming from an FBI investigation into NCAA corruption.
“This morning’s news is shocking,” the university said in a statement released Tuesday that was also posted to president Steven Leath’s Twitter account. “We are saddened, angry and disappointed…. We are committed to playing by the rules, and that’s what we expect from our coaches. In the meantime, Auburn is working closely with law enforcement, and we will help them in their investigation in any way we can.”
Auburn head coach Bruce Pearl was previously scheduled to meet with the media on Wednesday to discuss the start of practice, which begins Friday, but that has since been canceled in wake of the Person news.
Person has been on Pearl’s staff at Auburn since 2014, joining the program after a stint as the associate head coach for the Jeonju KCC Egis in the Korean Basketball League. He was promoted to Auburn’s associate head coach in May 2015 after spending his first season as an assistant coach.
Person has been known for his prowess on the recruiting trail, and he helped land three of the top signing classes in program history between 2015-17, including landing the school’s first five-star signee in guard Mustapha Heron.
Everything changed Tuesday, when an unsealed sworn FBI complaint revealed six federal corruption and bribery charges against Person and an accomplice, Rashan Michel, a former NBA official who owns a custom men’s clothing business in Atlanta. The charges against Person are part of a larger ongoing FBI investigation into the “criminal influence of money on coaches and student-athletes” in the NCAA.
The FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York formally announced the charges Tuesday during a 26-minute press conference in New York. Person was among 10 people arrested as part of the investigation and one of four active college coaches, including Oklahoma State assistant Lamont Evans, Southern California assistant Tony Bland and Arizona assistant Emmanuel Richardson. The six others arrested included three people associated with professional managers and financial advisers, as well as three employees at an athletic apparel company who allegedly funnelled money to top high school recruits in exchange for player commitments to specific schools.
“The nature of the charges brought to light by the federal government are deeply disturbing,” NCAA president Mark Emmert said in a statement released Tuesday afternoon. “We have no tolerance whatsoever for this alleged behavior. Coaches hold a unique position of trust with student-athletes and their families and these bribery allegations, if true, suggest an extraordinary and despicable breach of that trust. We learned of these charges this morning and of course will support the ongoing criminal federal investigation.”