Pearl said he will cooperate with the investigation and insists that any violations he committed since arriving on campus on Tuesday afternoon were not intentional.
“My past experiences taught me that NCAA rules are not to be trifled with,” said Pearl. “I’m excited to move past this and lead the Auburn Tigers to the top of college basketball.”
Yet despite Pearl’s denials, several witnesses said he handed his new Auburn players envelopes of cash upon first meeting them on Tuesday.
“This is an NCAA violation. A pretty big one, in fact,” the coach reportedly told his players. “So let’s keep this quiet and if anyone from the NCAA asks about it, deny it happened, alright? I’m here to win games and have fun, not read every little rule in some rulebook, am I right?”
Pearl then took his players to a nearby Best Buy for a shopping spree. That was followed by dinner at an expensive steakhouse with the night ending at a strip club.
“I enjoyed my first day at Auburn and I am excited to be here,” said Pearl. “I won’t deny that. If anyone happened to follow me to these places — Auburn players, for example — I can’t stop them. This is a free country. The NCAA needs to realize that.”
Auburn players have not been able to be reached for comment on the reports. Based on social media postings, all of the players and many Auburn recruits flew to St. Thomas yesterday for an all-expenses-paid resort vacation.
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