Auburn announced on Thursday that men’s basketball players Austin Wiley and Danjel Purifoy have been suspended indefinitely. While the school did not specify the reason for their suspensions, the fact that they were recommended by the school’s compliance department confirms that they are “Player 1" and “Player 2” from the FBI’s investigative report, per The Montgomery Advertiser.
Even with that being the case, head coach Bruce Pearl told the Advertiser he still does not know the identities of “Player 1" and “Player 2.” The university released the following statement in conjunction with the suspension announcements, which came hours before the men’s basketball team’s sole exhibition of the preseason:
“To avoid any potential eligibility issues, Auburn Athletics has decided to hold men’s basketball players Austin Wiley and Danjel Purifoy out indefinitely. Because this is related to an ongoing investigation, we cannot comment further at this time.”
According to the FBI, former Auburn assistant Chuck Person paid the mother of Player 1 $11,500 and paid Player 2 $7,500 in order to direct them to use the financial services of Rashan Michel, the owner of a clothing label who, along with Person, was one of the people charged by the FBI with bribery in September. The FBI report detailed multiple phone calls in which Person bragged about the level of influence he had over the Auburn players; Michel is reported to have paid the former Auburn coach $91,500 over the course of 10 months for his services. Person was indefinitely suspended by the Tigers the day the FBI announced his arrest on six charges of bribery and wire fraud. Following a court appearance this past Tuesday, he posted a $100,000 bond.
Both Purifoy and Wiley played major roles in their first season with the Tigers, with the two big men finishing among the team’s top-four scorers—at forward, Purifoy was good for 11.5 points and 4.7 rebounds per game; in the center role, Wiley contributed 8.8 points and 4.7 rebounds of his own. With no incoming recruits that would overshadow either of the hulking frontcourt players, the duo was expected to start and star again for the SEC bottom-feeder this season.
The suspension will be Purifoy’s second, as he missed the entire 2015-16 season after the NCAA popped him over some issues with his high school transcript and ACT scores, per the Advertiser. Wiley, meanwhile, was one of three five-star recruits to not-so-inexplicably choose to play at Auburn since Pearl took over—seeing as the Tigers already lost Class of 2018 stud E.J. Montgomery and Wiley will be sitting for what is shaping up to be a season-long (at minimum) suspension, Pearl’s going to yet again be leaning all the way on guard Mustapha Heron to keep Auburn from finishing in the SEC cellar. Poor guy should’ve listened to his gut and gotten out when the getting was good.