No talk of FBI probe, but Bruce Pearl keeps selling Auburn

By TERESA M. WALKER

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) Being involved in an ongoing FBI investigation limited what Auburn coach Bruce Pearl and his Tigers could say at Southeastern Conference basketball media day.

Pearl being Pearl meant the coach didn't stop selling his program as much as possible.

''You take all that and you just focus it onto the basketball court, and that's what we're doing,'' Pearl said. ''Our kids have practiced really well. They practice really hard, and I think their attitudes are extremely positive. At this moment right now, we're sitting in a position to still be competitive.''

Pearl said they are not allowed to have contact with Chuck Person , the associate head coach suspended without pay after prosecutors said the former NBA player accepted about $91,500 in bribes to steer clients to a Pittsburgh-based financial adviser when they reached the NBA as part of a wide-spread investigation into corruption.

The Auburn coach, who served out a show cause order for an NCAA violation as Tennessee head coach, started off his session saying he would not have any comment on any question involving the FBI or the investigation. Junior guard Bryce Brown and junior forward Horace Spencer also declined to comment for the same reason.

Pearl said they haven't been given any kind of timetable for a resolution. Auburn plays an exhibition Nov. 2 and opens the season Nov. 10 against Norfolk State. Asked about possibly losing any players due to the investigation, Pearl only said every player on the roster currently is available for practice.

''I would imagine as we go through these next few weeks we're going to get some clarity,'' Pearl said.

His Tigers won 18 games last season with the four freshmen who led the team in scoring last season all back. That has Auburn thinking of earning an NCAA Tournament berth this season.

In light of the investigation, Auburn gave season-ticket buyers the opportunity for a refund. Pearl said less than 200 took that offer, and those tickets have since been sold.

''We will sell out our first game against Norfolk State,'' Pearl said.

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