Basketball Program Receives Letter From NCAA

Auburn, Ala.--An on-campus visit by the NCAA questioning Auburn University men's basketball players and coaches has moved into a formal investigation of the program.

Auburn University president Dr. William F. Walker announced on Tuesday that the university has received a preliminary letter of inquiry from the National Collegiate Athletics Association.

"Auburn is cooperating fully with the NCAA concerning this matter to fully investigate any allegations of rules violations," Walker said in a statement. "The university has been working with the NCAA regarding these allegations for several months."

AU officials said that the preliminary letter of inquiry states that the NCAA's investigation will relate primarily to alleged improper offers and inducements to two prospective student athletes. The university's statement says, "The allegations are very general, and the preliminary letter does not identify the prospective student athletes allegedly involved. Consistent with NCAA and university policy, Auburn will not discuss the specifics of the investigation at this time. The NCAA has informed the university that it intends to complete the investigation by December 1, 2002."

Cliff Ellis, head coach of the Tigers since April of 1994, has had no comment on the situation other than to say that investigators will find no major rules violations on his watch.

The Tigers begin practice for the 2002-2003 season on Saturday.

Ellis, who is in his 27th year as a head coach, has an all-time record of 498-311. In eight years at Auburn, his record is 150-99.

In 1998-99, Ellis led the Tigers to one of its all-time best seasons as the Tigers posted a 29-4 mark and climbed to as high as No. 2 in the AP and USA Today Top 25 rankings.

With five returning starters and most of the key reserves returning, the Tigers are looking to rebound from a disappointing 2001-2002 season that included a 12-16 overall record with just a 4-12 SEC record.

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