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Auburn Athletics may be about to fire Bruce Pearl

Brandon Moseley

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By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter

Tuesday, November 8, 2017, Auburn University fired assistant men’s basketball coach, Auburn/NBA basketball legend, Chuck Person.

Person was indicted by a federal criminal grand jury Tuesday on six counts fraud, bribery, and conspiracy.  The Federal Bureau of Investigation claims that a financial manager paid $91,500 worth of bribes to Person to refer clients to financial advisor Marty Blazer.  Former NBA referee, Rashan Michel, was allegedly the go-between between Blazer a shoe company and Person and the other coaches.  Person allegedly then gave $18,500 to the parents of two un-named Auburn players.  According to the FBI, Adidas, Auburn’s sponsoring shoe and apparel company, is named as being involved in this scandal.  Blazer is cooperating with federal authorities.

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Now ESPN’s Mark Schlabach and Paula Lavigne are now reporting that Auburn men’s basketball coach Bruce Pearl is refusing to cooperate in the school’s internal investigation into his program.

Auburn has hired a law firm to do an internal investigation into the basketball program.  Pearl is reportedly refusing to talk to those investigators.  His cell phones and computers have already been seized by the FBI as part of the FBI criminal investigation.

University officials have reportedly advised Pearl that his job is in jeopardy if he doesn’t cooperate.

Pearl’s fourth season is set to begin on Friday night; but the mood for the season is not optimistic.  During Pearl’s tenure, Auburn basketball is just 44 and 54 and have never finished better than 11th in the SEC.  Last Thursday, Pearl’s team lost an exhibition game to Division II Barry University.

While Auburn will not announce which two players allegedly were involved in this, Auburn did announce last week that it was keeping basketball players Danjel Purifoy and Austin Wiley out of games indefinitely in an attempt to “avoid any potential eligibility issues.”

On Wednesday Coach Pearl told ESPN’s Jeff Goodman, “We are involved in an ongoing investigation to certify the eligibility of players.  It’s ongoing. I can’t comment any further on it.”

An NCAA investigation is certain to follow on the heels of the federal indictments.  Pearl was fired at the University of Tennessee as a result of an NCAA investigation into the basketball program that exposed recruiting violations.  Pearl was found to have lied to NCAA investigators then.

Pearl then went to work for ESPN as a TV analyst.

When Auburn Athletics Director Jay Jacobs hired Pearl he said that he believed Pearl “has learned from his mistakes.”  “I’ve thought about this a great deal, and obviously so has Coach Pearl.  I believe people who are genuine and sincere deserve second chances. If I did not believe Coach Pearl’s apologies were sincere and heartfelt, I would not have even considered him.”

Jacobs has already announced that he is retiring as Auburn Athletics Director effective June 1 or when Auburn has named his replacement.

Auburn has given basketball season ticket holders the opportunity to get a refund of their money.

The Auburn men’s basketball program is not the only mess that Jacobs’ replacement will inherit.

According to a report by ESPN’s Tom Junod and Paul Lavigna, Auburn is facing a Title IX complaint and a lawsuit by former softball pitcher Alexa Nemeth, who is represented by Milwaukee attorney Martin Greenberg.  According to a letter sent by Greenberg “Coach Clint Myers knowingly let his son Corey Myers (who was an assistant coach at the time) have relations and pursue relations with multiple members of the team.”  According to Greenberg’s letter on March 30, 2017, “several players approached Head Coach Myers with proof in the form of text messages from a student-athlete’s cell phone that Coach Corey was having an inappropriate relationship with one of the student-athletes.”

Nemeth was cut from the team by Clint Myers following the 2017 season.  Coach Clint Myers has since retired.  Corey Myers resigned in the spring.

Auburn has hired Attorneys from Lightfoot, Franklin & White to conduct an investigation into whether former assistant coach Corey Myers engaged in inappropriate behavior with players.

The law firm is also investigating allegations that a former part-time employee in the athletics department’s academic services department may have taken a final exam for a former football player.

The firm’s lawyers are also defending Jacobs, Auburn’s board of trustees and other athletics department employees in a federal lawsuit filed by former baseball coach Sunny Golloway, who claims that he was unjustly fired in September 2015 and is owed a $1 million buyout.

Former Auburn track and field assistant coach Adrian Ghioroaie is also suing the board of trustees and assistant head track coach Henry Rolle claiming that he was wrongfully fired and that Rolle physically assaulted him.

During Jacobs tenure Auburn has won it’s second football national championship and has played in two national championship games.  Many powerful boosters however are unsatisfied with the football team’s performance.  Auburn football is presently 7 and 2 and in second place in the SEC West; but still faces the #1 and #2 ranked teams in the country in Georgia and Alabama.  While Auburn has already clinched a winning season and bowl eligibility, losses to both rivals could lead to some of those boosters pressing Jacobs (or whoever will be Athletics Director then) to replace head football coach Gus Malzahn.

 

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Ivey Declares State of Emergency

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Gov. Kay Ivey issued a State of Emergency effective at 6:00 a.m. Sunday for several Alabama counties in preparation for Subtropical Storm Alberto.

The counties included are as follows: Autauga, Baldwin, Barbour, Bibb, Bullock, Butler, Chambers, Chilton, Choctaw, Clarke, Coffee, Conecuh, Coosa, Covington, Crenshaw, Dale, Dallas, Elmore, Escambia, Geneva, Greene, Hale, Henry, Houston, Lee, Lowndes, Macon, Marengo, Mobile, Monroe, Montgomery, Perry, Pickens, Pike, Russell, Sumter, Tallapoosa, Tuscaloosa, Washington and Wilcox.

According to the National Weather Service, Alberto will soon become a tropical storm, and the track has shifted a bit further east. However, significant impacts are still expected in Alabama beginning today near the coast and lasting into the middle of next week.

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Widespread 3-7 inches of rain will occur with 6-12 inches closer to the coast. Some locations could see 10 -15 inches. These amounts will lead to extremely serious flash and river flooding.

There is also a prolonged tornado threat for much of the state beginning near the coast on Sunday and lasting into at least Tuesday night in north Alabama.

“All Alabamians should take time to be prepared for the potential of significant flooding. I have directed essential state agencies to be on the ready should they be needed over the next couple of days,” Ivey said. “As with any tropical weather event, being prepared is of utmost importance. Everyone should take the necessary precautions now and stay informed of the latest weather conditions for their area.”

At the direction of Ivey, the State Emergency Operations Center in Clanton activated Friday in preparation for Alberto and the Alabama National Guard activated its High Water Evacuation Teams to support Divisions A and B, in the coastal and southeastern portion of the state.

“There is still uncertainty of where landfall will occur, which will likely be late Monday or early Tuesday morning,” Director of Alabama Emergency Management Agency Brian Hastings said. “Regardless of the final track and intensity of Alberto, we know it will produce heavy rainfall and flash flooding in several counties, and the time to prepare is now. Residents and tourist are strongly encouraging people to closely monitor this forecast.”

By declaring a State of Emergency, Ivey is directing the appropriate state agencies to exercise their statutory authority to assist the communities and entities impacted by Subtropical Storm Alberto.

For real-time road conditions, the Alabama Department of Transportation has a live update of road conditions on their website.

The State of Emergency will be effective at 6:00 a.m. Sunday.

 

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This week in Alabama Politics: ADC endorses, AEA dispute settled, and James Bonner

Sam Mattison

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At one corner in Pike County, a flurry of signs are placed indicating that election season is reaching its height for this primary cycle. (Samuel Mattison/APR)

Here’s what you need to know for this week in Alabama politics:

ADC endorses in key races

Throughout this week, the Alabama Democratic Conference officially weighed in on who they believe should head the Democratic ticket for high-profile races.

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The endorsements are key to winning the Democratic primaries slated for less than two weeks from now. In the gubernatorial race, their endorsement could bring a decisive end to what could be a competitive race.

ADC announced last Saturday that Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox officially won their approval. Their endorsement came after Maddox won the endorsement of many key Democratic lawmakers and the New South Coalition.

The heavy-hitting endorsements put his opponent, former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Sue Bell Cobb, in a difficult position. Cobb is charging ahead without the endorsements and hopes that her adept experience in running a statewide campaign will see her to victory in June.

They also announced two endorsements in two Congressional races.

In Alabama’s 2nd Congressional District, they endorsed Tabitha Isner, who has built her campaign on grassroots donations. Isner is hoping to unseat U.S. Rep. Martha Roby, who has retained control of the seat for the GOP since 2010.

Roby is facing a crowded primary with her opponents mostly her taking back her endorsement of Trump during the 2016 presidential election amid the infamous Access Hollywood tape.

ADC also announced their endorsement for Mallory Hagan in Alabama’s 3rd Congressional race.

AEA settles dispute with state over running of MPS

Settling what could have been a long dispute, the Alabama Education Association announced on Wednesday a compromise between their organization and the state Department of Education.

Their dispute was over the Montgomery takeover, which has gone on now under two different superintendents and one interim superintendent.

In the final agreement, the organization agreed to the sale of Georgia Washington Middle School with certain assurances from MPS and the state government.

On the top of the list was an agreement that the legacy of the school would be preserved despite its changing hands from MPS to Pike Road Schools. It also included plans to lessen outsourcing and firings that have been a popular tactic of the Montgomery takeover under Interim Superintendent Ed Richardson.

APR investigative reporter and columnist Josh Moon gave his take in a new analytical piece published on Friday.

James Bonner’s Facebook

In odd news this week, James Bonner, a candidate for Public Service Commission position 1, drew attention after Facebook posts were found.

APR published a detailed story on Monday with posts on Bonner’s Facebook page. Among them, were posts that referenced a Holocaust themed Valentines card, racial slurs, and fat strippers.

Brent Buchanan, a pollster and president of a polling company, said that Bonner was leading most likely due to a case of mistaken identity. Buchanan said that Bonner is probably being confused with popular Congressman Jo Bonner, who retired in 2013.

Since APR published the story on Monday, Bonner’s campaign has hit back at the story and called it a “hit job.” APR Columnist and Investigative Reporter Josh Moon had a strong response.

Everything Else

On Thursday, former GOP U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore was scheduled to hold a press conference to announce a new lawsuit. That conference was postponed until lawsuits already filed make their way through the court system.

Moore is currently entangled in a legal battle with his accuser Leigh Corfman, who alleges that Moore inappropriately touched her when she was 14. Moore denied the charge, but Corfman filed a defamation lawsuit against Moore a few months back.

Moore is counter suing Corfman for political conspiracy.

U.S. Rep. Mo Brook and Attorney General Steve Marshall announced a new lawsuit against the U.S. Census Bureau over their procedures in the 2020 Census.

At the center of their argument is the concern that Alabama may lose a seat in Congress after the new census.

In a statement from Marshall, the attorney general said that the Census counting gave an unfair advantage to states that have a high number of immigrants that illegally entered the country.

That’s all for this week.

 

 

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Elections

Pike County candidate urges supporters to vote Republican in primary before voting Democrat in Fall

Bill Britt

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Last week, Alton Starling, who is running for Pike County Probate Judge as a Republican, encouraged a group of Democrat-leaning individuals at a house party to vote in the Republican primary, saying they could switch in the general election to vote for Democrat.

“You need to vote in that [Republican] primary election because once that is done those races are over with,” said Starling to those gathered at the home of Penelope and Daniel Dawson, who are generally recognized as supporting Democrat candidates. In a video recording of the event, co-hosted by Caleb and Elizabeth Dawson who also back Democrat causes, Starling said those present could vote for him in the Republican primary and then for Democrat House of Representatives nominees Joel Williams and Walt Maddox in the Fall.

However, Starling’s advice may be ill-advised as Maddox faces a serious challenge in the Democrat primary from former Supreme Court Justice Sue Bell Cobb. While Maddox appears to be leading Cobb in the polls, if enough Democrats follow Starling’s call to crossover then Maddox’s primary win is in question.

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Republicans and Democrats are generally very protective of their primaries, but it is not unheard of for liberal Republicans, also known as RINOs, to recruit Democrats to vote in the Republican primaries. This type of stealth voting led to Gov. Kay Ivey signing a bill banning crossover primary ballots in 2017.

“In the State of Alabama, primary elections serve as the preliminary process by which candidates are nominated to represent either the Republican or Democratic Party,” said Secretary of State John H. Merrill after the law passed.

While it is not illegal to change from Republican to Democrat in the general election, it is mainly unacceptable in both parties.

In this case, Starling is running for probate judge in Pike County but is not an active Republican.

Starling’s plea to Democrats in Troy to back his candidacy by voting in the Republican primary before voting Democrat in the fall harkens back to the days when Democrats would vote for the weakest candidate in a Republican primary to ensure a win in the general.

Conservatives in Pike County have become aware that Starling is attempting to dilute their June 5 primary election and are now privately voicing concerns.

Starling’s attempt to woo Democrats to crossover in the Republican primary is frowned upon by both parties.

“Both parties have, throughout the years, periodically required voters to participate with voting consistency to avoid voters crossing from one party primary to another party primary and then engaging in the other parties election and intentionally influencing the vote totals for candidates receiving votes in the nomination process,” wrote Secretary of State Merrill. While it’s not illegal, it breaks the spirit of the law.

Starling is running against Michael Bunn for the position of Pike County Probate Judge. Bunn is a member of the Alabama Republican Party.

 

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Auburn Athletics may be about to fire Bruce Pearl

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