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Alex Scarborough, ESPN Staff Writer 49d

Auburn's Bruce Pearl wants focus to be on court, doesn't comment on Chuck Person federal charges

Men's College Basketball, Auburn Tigers

AUBURN, Ala. -- Auburn coach Bruce Pearl met with reporters on Friday afternoon but would not comment on the federal charges facing assistant Chuck Person other than to say that the conduct alleged in the criminal complaint is "unacceptable."

"The reason we're having this press conference is it's time to start the basketball season," Pearl said, "and that's going to be our focus."

Person was one of four assistant basketball coaches charged Tuesday morning in a federal corruption investigation. He is accused of accepting $91,500 in bribes to steer two players toward a financial adviser.

An Auburn basketball star in the 1980s and NBA Rookie of the Year in 1987, Person was suspended by the school without pay. He was released on $25,000 bond and, according to the U.S. Department of Justice, faces a maximum sentence of 80 years in prison if convicted.

Person, 53, is Auburn's associate head coach and has been part of the staff since 2014.

Pearl would not say whether he planned to hire anyone to replace Person on staff. An official roster handed out by the university on Friday still included Person on it.

Despite the FBI investigation referencing two Auburn players, Pearl said the entire team would practice. When asked to identify the two players in question, Pearl said, "I can't and I won't have any further comment."

Auburn president Steven Leath told ESPN's Mark Schlabach that the university was informed by the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York that it was not the target of the investigation.

"I think it says clearly that they don't think there's some structural problem or some broader problem at the university, that this was an isolated individual," Leath said. "I don't think anybody else knew. I don't think there's any indication at Auburn that anybody else knew about this."

Auburn has hired an outside law firm to investigate the men's basketball program and will wait for information from that review to determine what further actions, if any, need to be taken.

Pearl said his focus now is on the start of practice, and he has told his players to focus on what they can control, which is school and basketball.

"These guys have worked really hard," Pearl said. "There's been a lot of discipline. I do feel as confident going into this season as any I've had."

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