NCAA BK

Ex-Auburn player Ward enters diversion program

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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP)

Former Auburn basketball player Varez Ward was accepted into a pre-trial diversion program that could dismiss his point-shaving charges if he completes the program without any problems, Assistant U.S. Attorney Clark Morris said.

Ward's attorney, Everett Wess, said the program is a wonderful opportunity for Ward to put the case behind him. To complete the program, he needs to keep taking courses at a Montgomery university, work and stay out of trouble for a year.

''He's happy to have the opportunity to go through life without a felony conviction on his record,'' Wess said Tuesday evening.

Ward was arrested in June on charges of bribery and conspiracy that accused him of trying to fix the point spread in Auburn's game against Arkansas on Jan. 25, 2012. Ward came off the bench in that game but crumpled to the floor after playing only 19 seconds with an apparent leg injury. Arkansas won 56-53.

Ward was suspended before a Feb. 25, 2012, game, also against Arkansas, and didn't play for the Tigers again.

Ward, a 6-foot-2 guard from Montgomery, averaged nine points per game and started 17 games in his only season at Auburn. He played two seasons for Texas before transferring to Auburn.

Ward had been scheduled for trial earlier this month, but a judge postponed it in anticipation of Ward entering the pre-trial diversion program. If Ward fails to complete the program and has to go to trial, he faces up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.

Federal prosecutors said Auburn cooperated fully with the investigation. Auburn said in a statement after Ward's arrest last year that it notified the FBI, NCAA and Southeastern Conference immediately after learning of the matter in 2012.

Tagged: Arkansas, Auburn, Varez Ward

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