"Strict Compliance Is Order Of The Day"

Auburn interim president Dr. Ed Richardson talks about the NCAA sanctions handed down on Tuesday.

Auburn, Ala.--Since taking over for Dr. William Walker as Auburn University President, Dr. Ed Richardson has been a busy man.

In addition to making the decision in both the men's and women's basketball coaching searches, one of Richardson's first duties was to join in Auburn's defense against charges from the NCAA in a February meeting in Phoenix, Ariz.

Auburn finally received word that the sanctions were in and the basketball program would get two years of probation and a loss of one scholarship each year. After sorting through the information available and listening to the NCAA's reasoning behind the penalties, Richardson said on Tuesday that the day could have been worse, but Auburn's willingness to help and self-investigate was something that helped..

"I think it's always disappointing to be called to task by any organization in which you have violated established regulations," Richardson said. "But I think you heard, and it was clearly identified, that the sanctions that were provided were justified. This has been a long investigation and there were some serious allegations, some that were a concern, but as you heard those were not found to have sufficient evidence to warrant a charge.

"It's my opinion that the Committee on Infractions has sorted through the evidence presented and reached a reasonable and fair conclusion," Richardson added. "I would offer as a reminder that Auburn's own review of its basketball operations discovered several violations and for those we offered self-imposed sanctions, which you heard were confirmed and supported by the NCAA."

Dr. Ed Richardson talks to media members on Tuesday.

Richardson also took time out to thank another key player in Auburn's defense. While many outsiders took the time to help and give advice to Auburn in its situation, the biggest and most important may have come from the SEC offices in Birmingham.

"I would like to commend the SEC Commissioner Mike Slive for his assistance prior to our trip and advising us on the self-imposed sanctions and what we should do," Richardson said. "I would commend him for his efforts to make sure all SEC schools adhere to NCAA regulations and I want to assure everyone here that Auburn supports his efforts in that regard."

The men's basketball program now moves ahead with new Coach Jeff Lebo at the helm and a returning nucleus of experienced players. With no postseason restrictions the load has been lightened on the program as a whole. Still, Richardson said this is definitely not the time to relax if you're involved in Auburn athletics and he's not going to let that happen on his watch.

"I think the general sanctions are reasonable and balanced and fair and we're going to move forward from there," Richardson said. "The one that is the most concerning deals with the repeated violaters clause, which is to say that if we have another violation within a five-year period in any of our sports it would be very serious for that sport and Auburn University.

"It is my intention to make sure that as I meet with all of the coaches in the next few days that I convey to them the importance of that repeater violation clause in this report that only deals with men's basketball. That would cover all of athletics. Strict compliance will be the order of the day for Auburn University."

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