Auburn suspends assistant Bowman amid probe

Auburn placed assistant basketball coach Ira Bowman on administrative leave Wednesday as it investigates his alleged role in a $300,000 bribery scheme when he coached at Penn.

Auburn officials said Bowman wouldn't coach in this week's SEC tournament in Nashville.

The No. 22 Tigers, who finished the regular season 22-9 and 11-7 in SEC play, have a first-round bye in the tournament and will face the winner of Wednesday's game between Missouri and Georgia during Thursday's second round.

"As we continue to gather information regarding a situation that recently arose, it is important that we be thorough and proactive, yet prudent and cautious," the athletics department said in a statement. "Therefore, Ira Bowman will not coach or participate in any responsibilities with the men's basketball program until we fully assess all the issues."

Former Quakers basketball coach Jerome Allen testified during a federal criminal trial on Friday that he accepted roughly $300,000 in bribes from a Florida businessman to help get the man's son into the Ivy League school using a basketball priority slot.

Allen, now an assistant coach with the Boston Celtics, pleaded guilty in October to accepting an $18,000 bribe from the man in 2014.

The $300,000 total wasn't disclosed until Allen testified during the $450 million Medicare and Medicaid fraud case involving Philip Esformes, a Miami nursing home mogul. According to Allen's testimony, which was reported on by Law360.com, Allen also testified that Bowman had knowledge of the scheme and became involved after Allen was forced to resign as the Quakers' coach in March 2015. Allen told the jury he set up a separate bank account for Esformes to wire him money and gave Bowman a debit card to access the funds.

Bowman, a former Providence and Penn player and the 1995-96 Ivy League Player of the Year, was hired as an Auburn assistant in July. He is the second Auburn assistant under head coach Bruce Pearl to have been linked to a federal bribery case. Pearl hired Bowman to replace former Tigers assistant Chuck Person, who was arrested in September 2017 in a federal bribery case involving college basketball corruption. Person is scheduled for trial in New York in June.

"We are aware of the reports that are out there," Pearl told reporters on Tuesday. "Currently, we and our administration are gathering facts. Until we know more, it would be premature for me to comment on anything further. Therefore, I won't be answering any questions regarding this other than to say we are aware of the reports. We are gathering information and facts."

ESPN's Alex Scarborough contributed to this report.