Say it ain't so
It's ludicrous even to consider point-shaving allegations at an under-the-radar basketball program, in an isolated location, at a school where: the Heisman Trophy quarterback's dad allegedly tried to auction him to a rival; the former football coach was run off for having the temerity to go 5-7 after winning 42 games the previous four years; boosters once met with a potential replacement football coach during the season; the Feds recently tried (and lost) a case against a booster who owns a dog track and casino for allegedly buying and selling votes related to a gambling bill in the state legislature; and the player in question transferred closer to home to be nearer to his mother because of her heart condition. Absurd.
Scandals nothing new
Los Angeles Times
It's too soon to pinpoint the depth and veracity of this alleged Auburn point-shaving scandal, but it sure doesn't sound like it will crack college basketball's all-time top five. College hoops has been a cesspool for this kind of thing, dating to point-shaving incidents in the late 1940s and '50s at City College of New York and Kentucky.
Rest assured, the NCAA is very concerned about gambling as the West Coast and Mountain West conferences use Las Vegas as a hub to host their tournaments, with plans for the Pac-12 to move to Sin City next season. This year's Final Four is in downtown New Orleans, which boasts a Harrah's Casino wider than the Mississippi. Any point-shaving scandal is to be taken seriously, but the good news involving Auburn for now is knowing the crisis involves basketball, not football.
Gambling is root of evil
The Auburn allegations should not come as a shock. As long as people gamble, they will become desperate to make that sure bet. If that means getting to a player, then a bookmaker or runner will do just that.
Many believe the answer is to compensate players. Sure, college athletes wander around campus more broke than the day they left home. Paying players, however, will do nothing but change their lifestyle. The money will be spent, and those with a knack for trouble will find trouble.
As for Auburn's Varez Ward, there's probably more to the story. Ward will have his day in court — just not the court he had in mind.
Doesn't add up
The Auburn allegations are as odd as the act of poisoning a 130-year-old oak tree. Let's start with the obvious: Who even knew Auburn played basketball?
The games in question also make you wonder. Conventional point shaving would call for a big favorite to fail to beat the spread. And logic says you wouldn't do it against your biggest rival, when everyone is paying attention.
Yet the FBI is investigating whether Auburn guard Varez Ward tried to fix the Feb. 7 Auburn-Alabama game in which the Crimson Tide were favored by 5. Auburn did lose by 18, but the Tigers beat the spread two weeks earlier against Arkansas in the other game under the microscope. So while it's easy to believe that a broke college student would shave points, the details in this case make it seem far-fetched.