NCAA BK

Ex-Auburn player may avoid trial

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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP)

Former Auburn University basketball player Varez Ward, who is accused of point-shaving during a game, may not be tried.

Ward, a 6-foot-2 guard from Montgomery, came off the bench in a game against Arkansas on Jan. 25, 2012, but crumpled to the floor with an apparent leg injury after playing only 19 seconds. Arkansas won 56-53. He was arrested in June on bribery and conspiracy charges, accusing him of trying to fix the game. He pleaded not guilty.

His attorneys have sought to get him in a pre-trial diversion program, and the U.S. attorney's office in Montgomery is recommending it, federal prosecutor Clark Morris said Friday.

She said the recommendation still must be approved by the U.S. Probation Office and a federal judge.

Ward's attorney, Robert Beeman, said Friday that he's optimistic Ward will avoid a trial scheduled to start Nov. 4 in Montgomery.

Ward was suspended before the Feb. 25, 2012, game, also against Arkansas, and didn't play for Auburn again. Auburn also notified the FBI, Southeastern Conference and NCAA, the university said in a statement after Ward's arrest.

Pre-trial diversion is used for defendants without a history of felony convictions or drug addiction.

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Morris said the program usually involves a fine and community service under the supervision of a probation officer. The charges are dismissed, but the defendant can be charged again if he doesn't complete the program, she said.

Ward 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.

Another defense attorney, Everett Wess, said Ward is back in college at Auburn's Montgomery campus and studying computer science.

Tagged: Auburn, Varez Ward, Arkansas

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