Auburn point guard Varez Ward is under investigation by the FBI for alleged point-shaving, according to Charles Robinson at Yahoo. Ward, who was suspended by Auburn at the end of February for "violating team rules," may have conspired to rope other players into the alleged scheme, say Robinson's sources. After another player on the team expressed concerns to an assistant coach in February, Auburn contacted the NCAA and the FBI.
At least two games are now being looked at, according to Robinson: a 68-50 loss to Alabama on Feb. 7 and a 56-53 loss to Arkansas on Jan. 25. In both games, Ward's performance on the court was either sorry or suspicious, depending, I suppose, on whom you're talking to. More details from Yahoo:
• In the Feb. 7 loss to Alabama, Ward played 17 minutes, scoring three points (shooting 1-for-5 from the field and 1-for-2 from the free-throw line) and committing six turnovers with two assists. His first shot was a made layup, his second shot was blocked, his third was an air ball, his fourth was a long missed 3-pointer and his fifth was blocked on a layup attempt. Tailing 43-33 with 15:25 left, Ward turned the ball over twice in 21 seconds. He was then subbed out of the game. Ward entered again with 11:30 remaining and Alabama leading 50-35. Ward then turned the ball over twice in 2½ minutes as the Crimson Tide moved to a 58-38 lead. In the other 26 games Ward played this season, he averaged 2.7 turnovers in 29.1 minutes per game. According to sportsbook Vegas Insider, Alabama entered the game as a five-point favorite. The Crimson Tide easily covered with an 18-point win.
• In the Jan. 25 game against Arkansas, Ward checked in with 14:25 to play. He turned the ball over in the backcourt on his first possession 19 seconds later, falling to the floor as Arkansas converted the turnover into a layup. After remaining on the floor for more than a minute, Ward left the game limping on his right leg. Coach Tony Barbee later described the injury as a knee to Ward's quadriceps. Ward's departure left Auburn with only one reserve point guard for the remainder of the game against the Razorbacks—little-used Tony Neysmith, who hadn't played in the previous seven games. According to Vegas Insider, Arkansas went into the game as 9½-point favorites. Auburn ultimately covered that spread without Ward, losing 56-53.
Now this is a potential scandal, unlike, say, players smoking doob outside the gym after practice. Think what you will of Robinson's role as NCAA bluebottle, but the man does rake the muck.