"We understand what we are dealing with now as far as sanctions are concerned," Lebo said on Tuesday after finding out the Tigers will have to play with a maximum of 12 scholarship players for the next two seasons. AU had self-imposed a one scholarship limit for one season.
"We will be able to, at least, figure out a way to put this all behind us and focus on the future of Auburn basketball," Lebo said. "I know it has been a trying time for a lot of people. Obviously, I think not knowing and being by the seven-week time-frame that the NCAA put forth made us all, I guess, a little uneasy to know what was going to happen. We are glad to have it now and be able to move forward with our basketball program."
Because AU received what the NCAA considers "major sanctions" Lebo's new contract to coach Auburn is extended one season from seven years to eight years.
Coach Jeff Lebo
Lebo noted that the penalties the Tigers received were not a surprise to him. "They were pretty much what we had thought, but you never know what is going to happen and how they are going to rule," he said. "Obviously, the self-imposed things are what we knew we had in place and they pretty much, other than extending the loss of a scholarship out another year, that is what I was led to believe, but you just don't know until they actually have a ruling."
Lebo, who was out of town on Tuesday and did not attend the announcement of the sanctions, has already used his one scholarship for the spring semester on 6-11 center Ryan Daniel from Goodpasture High in Madison, Tenn. He and his assistant coaches are turning their attention to recruiting for the November signing period. How many players the Tigers can sign depends on whether or not the NCAA rescinds a rule that allowed a college to sign a maximum of five players in one signee class and eight over a two-year period. That ruling could come later this week.
"Anytime you lose a scholarship it affects your program," Lebo said. "We don't know yet how this will truly affect us. We are still waiting on this 5/8 ruling. That is even a bigger thing as far as scholarships are concerned. With basketball only having 13 that is not a lot to begin with and you are going to be down to 12. It is a factor, but with the 5/8 in place that is even more of a factor for us because we have got the classes the way they are. Having eight seniors (for 2004-2005) it is difficult there without being able to replace those with the 5/8 rule."