AUBURN, Ala.- In his first press conference following Tuesday’s arrest and suspension of Associate Head Coach Chuck Person, Auburn Head Coach Bruce Pearl shifted the focus from Person to the first day of practice for his team.
When Coach Pearl walked into the media room of the Auburn Arena and sat at the table to face reporters he wasted no time to say the following.
“Let me say upfront that my only comments on this matter are two-fold. One, I stand by the statement the university issued on Tuesday, and two, the conduct alleged in the criminal complaint is unacceptable.”
On Tuesday, the university released the following statement:
“This morning’s news is shocking. We are saddened, angry and disappointed. We have suspended Coach Person without pay effective immediately. 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.”
From there, various questions relating to Chuck Person came from all corners of the room, but were greeted by answers from Coach Pearl such as: “I can’t, and I won’t have any further comment,” and “As it relates to any matters involving all that, I’m probably not going to make any more comments on that at this time.”
For Coach Pearl, the only thing on his mind was the start of practice.
“Our focus is the start of practice and how we want to play, what are our strengths, what are our weaknesses and just try to stay together from that standpoint,” Coach Pearl said. “They can’t worry about what they can’t control. They’ve got to continue to focus on their books and their basketball, and that’s really been our focus.”
The 2017-2018 is Pearl’s fourth season on the Plains, and he feels that this team can make a run at the NCAA Tournament. When asked what a tournament run would mean to the program, Pearl responded:
“To any program, it still matters. When I was at Southern Indiana and I made it nine straight years, I still got chills up and down my spine every time they called out our name. When I was at Tennessee, we made it six years in a row, and it was the same way. The fact we haven’t been there since 2003, it might be more historic, and it might be a little more special. We have a lot of work to get there. We certainly do, but it would mean a great deal if we can continue. We have a very strong foundation, and I feel like this team has a chance.”
Person is set to appear in federal court in New York on Oct. 10.
One month later, the Tigers tip off their season against Norfolk State.