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Auburn hires Bruce Pearl as basketball coach

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AUBURN, Ala. (AP) — New Auburn coach Bruce Pearl wasted no time making an impression- and some bold promises.

The former Tennessee coach sprung for pizza for several hundred students Tuesday a few hours after arriving in town, some of whom took selfies posing next to him. Then he told a couple thousand fans at Auburn Arena: “We will play for championships.”

“We’re fixing to get Auburn into that position where we’ll be going to the NCAA tournament,” he said, adding that he wanted to be the winningest coach in program history.

Before stepping away from the podium, he proclaimed: “I’m baack.” Then Auburn fans sang Happy Birthday to Pearl, who turned 54 on Tuesday and suggested they celebrate at the NCAA tournament next year.

The Tigers turned to Pearl to revive a struggling basketball program that hasn’t made that field since 2003, causing quite a splash in a football-mad state. Athletic director Jay Jacobs landed his top target with a 6-year deal starting at $2.2 million annually, less than a week after firing Tony Barbee. They first spoke at the ESPN studio where Pearl had been working last Friday night.

Pearl will receive $100,000 raise each year and will owe Auburn $5 million if he leaves in the next two years, Jacobs said. It made the $2,100 tab for pizza easy to swallow.

Pearl remains under a show-cause penalty from the NCAA barring him from recruiting until Aug. 23. Auburn has 30 days to accept or contest the penalty, and Jacobs said the school hasn’t decided how to handle that yet.

Pearl had plenty of success on the court, taking Tennessee to the NCAA tournament in each of his six seasons before getting fired in March 2011 in the wake of an NCAA investigation.

Jacobs said he believes Pearl “has learned from his mistake.” Pearl repeatedly talked about getting this second chance, and said he had heard from “a few schools” but was prepared to have to wait until after the show-cause expired to land a job.

“I would not have gone this year had I not felt this was the right opportunity,” Pearl said. “I was prepared to not coach this year.”

Pearl was greeted by 100-plus fans when he landed at the airport in Auburn. He jumped into a mosh pit of fans.

“I want this same reception when we come back with an SEC championship,” he told them. Pearl charmed them again with football coach Gus Malzahn and two assistants – Tony Jones and son Steven Pearl – watching from the front row.

Jacobs said with the move “we have raised the bar for Auburn basketball.” He addressed the off-the-court issues in an open letter posted on the school’s Web site and again later, saying he wouldn’t have hired Pearl if he didn’t think the coach was remorseful.

“After looking at the case and talking to Coach Pearl face to face, I am convinced without a doubt that he has learned from his mistake,” Jacobs wrote.

“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.”

Pearl was cited for unethical conduct for lying to investigators in June 2010 about improperly hosting recruits at his home. He was placed under a three-year show-cause penalty

He also was found to have interfered with the NCAA’s investigation after he contacted a recruit’s father who had also been interviewed by investigators.

Two months after his initial interview, he met again with NCAA investigators to tell them he had misled them.

SEC Commissioner Mike Slive, who Pearl describes as a friend, said he trusts that Auburn did “its due diligence throughout the hiring process.”

“I was disappointed in the actions of coach Pearl that led to his suspension and ultimate dismissal, but he will soon complete the requirements of his NCAA penalties,” Slive said. “I have every expectation that he has learned his lesson and will run Auburn’s basketball program in accordance with these expectations.”

Auburn hired former NCAA director of enforcement David Didion as an associate athletic director for compliance in April 2013.

Pearl, who is 231-99 in Division I, has been working in private business in Knoxville, Tenn., and for ESPN. He has led eight of his 10 Division I teams to the NCAA tournament, including twice in four seasons at Wisconsin-Milwaukee and led Division II Southern Indiana to a national title in 1995.

Pearl led the Volunteers to the Sweet Sixteen four times and they made the Elite Eight in 2010.

Pearl inherited a Tennessee team that went 14-17 and lost its top two scorers, and took the Vols to a 22-8 record in his debut season, 2005-06.

Only North Carolina’s Roy Williams reached 300 career wins faster among NCAA coaches.

The last seven Auburn coaches have left with losing marks in the league, dating back to the Joel Eaves era from 1949-63. Pearl takes over a team that went 14-16 and loses three starters, including leading scorer Chris Denson.

That didn’t take away from his joy of being “baack.”

“I’m truly humbled and I’m blessed to have this opportunity,” Pearl said. “It’s been a long three years being away from the game. One of the things that I just want to tell you is as a coach and even as a father, when I made the mistakes I made at Tennessee, I let a lot of people down.

“That’s why I still walk around with pain.”

Auburn hires Bruce Pearl as basketball coach

KDWN

AUBURN, Ala. (AP) — New Auburn coach Bruce Pearl wasted no time making an impression.

The former Tennessee coach sprung for pizza for several hundred students Tuesday a few hours after arriving in town, some of whom took selfies posing next to him. Then he told a couple thousand fans at Auburn Arena: “We’re fixing to get Auburn into that position where we’ll be going to the NCAA tournament.”

The Tigers turned to Pearl Tuesday to revive a struggling basketball program that hasn’t been to the NCAA tournament in more than a decade. Athletic director Jay Jacobs landed his top target with a 6-year deal worth $2.2 million annually less than a week after firing Tony Barbee.

Pearl remains under a show-cause penalty from the NCAA barring him from recruiting until Aug. 23.

Auburn hires Bruce Pearl as basketball coach

KDWN

AUBURN, Ala. (AP) — Auburn has hired former Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl to revive a struggling basketball program that hasn’t been to the NCAA tournament in more than a decade.

The school announced the hiring on Tuesday of the charismatic coach, who remains under a show-cause penalty from the NCAA into August. Pearl had plenty of success on the court, taking Tennessee to the NCAA tournament in each of his six seasons before getting fired in March 2011 in the wake of an NCAA investigation.

NCAA spokeswoman Emily James said Auburn has 30 days to file a report to the Committee on Infractions either contesting or accepting the show-cause penalty barring Pearl from recruiting until Aug. 23.

Auburn athletic director Jay Jacobs said he believes Pearl “has learned from his mistake.” The coach was to be introduced at a news conference at Auburn Arena Tuesday night.

Auburn did not release terms of the deal with Pearl.

“I’m humbled and blessed to be back in the game that I love,” Pearl, who turned 54 on Tuesday, said in a statement. “I don’t know how long it will take, but it’s time to rebuild the Auburn basketball program, and bring it to a level of excellence so many of the other teams on campus enjoy.”

Pearl was greeted by 100-plus fans when he landed at the airport in Auburn. He jumped into a mosh pit of fans.

“I want this same reception when we come back with an SEC championship,” he told fans upon arrival.

Pearl replaces Tony Barbee, who was fired about two hours after the Tigers lost to South Carolina in the first round of the Southeastern Conference tournament. They went 18-50 in the SEC during Barbee’s four-year tenure, which coincided with the opening of the $87 million Auburn Arena.

Jacobs said with the move “we have raised the bar for Auburn basketball.” He addressed the off-the-court issues in an open letter to fans posted on the school’s Web site.

“After looking at the case and talking to Coach Pearl face to face, I am convinced without a doubt that he has learned from his mistake,” Jacobs wrote.

“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.”

Pearl was cited for unethical conduct for lying to investigators in June 2010 about improperly hosting recruits at his home. He was placed under a three-year show-cause penalty

He also was found to have interfered with the NCAA’s investigation after he contacted a recruit’s father who had also been interviewed by investigators.

Two months after his initial interview, he met again with NCAA investigators to tell them he had misled them.

SEC Commissioner Mike Slive said he trusts that Auburn did “its due diligence throughout the hiring process.”

“I was disappointed in the actions of coach Pearl that led to his suspension and ultimate dismissal, but he will soon complete the requirements of his NCAA penalties,” Slive said. ” I have every expectation that he has learned his lesson and will run Auburn’s basketball program in accordance with these expectations.”

Auburn hired former NCAA director of enforcement David Didion as an associate athletic director for compliance in April 2013.

Pearl, who is 231-99 in Division I, has been working in private business in Knoxville, Tenn., and working as an ESPN analyst. He has led eight of his 10 Division I teams to the NCAA tournament, including twice in four seasons at Wisconsin-Milwaukee and led Division II Southern Indiana to a national title in 1995.

Pearl’s teams have had winning records in all 19 of his seasons as a head coach.

A seven-time conference coach of the year during his career, Pearl led the Volunteers to the Sweet Sixteen four times and they made the Elite Eight in 2010.

He’s led major turnarounds before. Pearl inherited a Tennessee team that went 14-17 and lost its top two scorers, and took the Vols to a 22-8 record in his debut season, 2005-06.

Only North Carolina’s Roy Williams reached 300 career wins faster among NCAA coaches.

Auburn hasn’t been to the NCAA tournament since 2003, the longest drought in the SEC. The Tigers’ average attendance last season was 5,823, 13th in the league.

The last seven Auburn coaches have left with losing marks in the league, dating back to the Joel Eaves era from 1949-63. Pearl takes over a team that went 14-16 and loses three starters, including leading scorer Chris Denson.

Auburn hires Bruce Pearl as basketball coach

KDWN

AUBURN, Ala. (AP) — Auburn has hired former Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl to revive a struggling basketball program that hasn’t been to the NCAA tournament in more than a decade.

The school announced the hiring on Tuesday of the charismatic coach, who remains under a show-cause penalty from the NCAA into August. Pearl had plenty of success on the court, taking Tennessee to the NCAA tournament in each of his six seasons before getting fired in March 2011 in the wake of an NCAA investigation.

NCAA spokeswoman Emily James said Auburn has 30 days to file a report to the Committee on Infractions either contesting or accepting the show-cause penalty barring Pearl from recruiting until Aug. 23.

Auburn spokeswoman Cassie Arner said athletic director Jay Jacobs would address the issue when Pearl is formally introduced Tuesday night.

“I’m humbled and blessed to be back in the game that I love,” Pearl, who turned 54 on Tuesday, said in a statement. “I don’t know how long it will take, but it’s time to rebuild the Auburn basketball program, and bring it to a level of excellence so many of the other teams on campus enjoy.”

Auburn did not release terms of the deal with Pearl.

Pearl replaces Tony Barbee, who was fired about two hours after the Tigers lost to South Carolina in the first round of the Southeastern Conference tournament. They went 18-50 in the SEC during Barbee’s four-year tenure, which coincided with the opening of the $87 million Auburn Arena.

“From the moment I met coach Pearl and heard his vision for our basketball program, it was clear he’s the right man at the right time for Auburn,” Jacobs said. “Coach Pearl is a proven winner who will bring energy and excitement to our program. We have raised the bar for Auburn basketball, and I could not be more excited for our student-athletes and our future under Coach Pearl’s leadership. I know he agrees with me – it’s time to win.”

He was cited for unethical conduct for lying to investigators in June 2010 about improperly hosting recruits at his home. He was placed under a three-year show-cause penalty

He also was found to have interfered with the NCAA’s investigation after he contacted a recruit’s father who had also been interviewed by investigators.

Two months after his initial interview, he met again with NCAA investigators to tell them he had misled them.

Auburn hired former NCAA director of enforcement David Didion as an associate athletic director for compliance in April 2013.

Pearl, who is 231-99 in Division I, has been working in private business in Knoxville, Tenn., and working as an ESPN analyst. He has led nine of his 10 Division I teams to the NCAA tournament, including three times in four seasons at Wisconsin-Milwaukee and led Division II Southern Indiana to a national title in 1995.

Pearl’s teams have had winning records in all 19 of his seasons as a head coach.

A seven-time conference coach of the year during his career, Pearl led the Volunteers to the Sweet Sixteen four times and they made the Elite Eight in 2010.

He’s led major turnarounds before. Pearl inherited a Tennessee team that went 14-17 and lost its top two scorers, and took the Vols to a 22-8 record in his debut season, 2005-06.

Only North Carolina’s Roy Williams reached 300 career wins faster among NCAA coaches.

Auburn hasn’t been to the NCAA tournament since 2003, the longest drought in the SEC. The Tigers’ average attendance last season was 5,823, 13th in the league.

The last seven Auburn coaches have left with losing marks in the league, dating back to the Joel Eaves era from 1949-63. Pearl takes over a team that went 14-16 and loses three starters, including leading scorer Chris Denson.

Auburn hires Bruce Pearl as basketball coach

KDWN

AUBURN, Ala. (AP) — Auburn has hired former Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl to revive a struggling basketball program that hasn’t been to the NCAA tournament in more than a decade.

The school announced the hiring on Tuesday of the charismatic coach, who remains under a show-cause penalty from the NCAA into August. Pearl had plenty of success on the court, taking Tennessee to the NCAA tournament in each of his six seasons before getting fired in March 2011 in the wake of an NCAA investigation.

An NCAA spokesman did not immediately respond to an email regarding the show-cause status. Auburn spokeswoman Cassie Arner said athletic director Jay Jacobs would address the issue when Pearl is formally introduced Tuesday night.

“I’m humbled and blessed to be back in the game that I love,” Pearl, who turned 54 on Tuesday, said in a statement. “I don’t know how long it will take, but it’s time to rebuild the Auburn basketball program, and bring it to a level of excellence so many of the other teams on campus enjoy.”

Auburn did not release terms of the deal with Pearl.

Pearl replaces Tony Barbee, who was fired about two hours after the Tigers lost to South Carolina in the first round of the Southeastern Conference tournament. They went 18-50 in the SEC during Barbee’s four-year tenure, which coincided with the opening of the $87 million Auburn Arena.

“From the moment I met coach Pearl and heard his vision for our basketball program, it was clear he’s the right man at the right time for Auburn,” Jacobs said. “Coach Pearl is a proven winner who will bring energy and excitement to our program. We have raised the bar for Auburn basketball, and I could not be more excited for our student-athletes and our future under Coach Pearl’s leadership. I know he agrees with me – it’s time to win.”

He was cited for unethical conduct for lying to investigators in June 2010 about improperly hosting recruits at his home. He was placed under a three-year show-cause penalty, which expires in late August.

It barred Pearl from recruiting during that span and any school seeking to hire him would have to ask the NCAA to remove that penalty.

He also was found to have interfered with the NCAA’s investigation after he contacted a recruit’s father who had also been interviewed by investigators.

Two months after his initial interview, he met again with NCAA investigators to tell them he had misled them.

Auburn hired former NCAA director of enforcement David Didion as an associate athletic director for compliance in April 2013.

Pearl, who is 231-99 in Division I, has been working in private business in Knoxville, Tenn., and working as an ESPN analyst. He has led nine of his 10 Division I teams to the NCAA tournament, including three times in four seasons at Wisconsin-Milwaukee and led Division II Southern Indiana to a national title in 1995.

Pearl’s teams have had winning records in all 19 of his seasons as a head coach.

A seven-time conference coach of the year during his career, Pearl led the Volunteers to the Sweet Sixteen four times and they made the Elite Eight in 2010.

He’s led major turnarounds before. Pearl inherited a Tennessee team that went 14-17 and lost its top two scorers, and took the Vols to a 22-8 record in his debut season, 2005-06.

Only North Carolina’s Roy Williams reached 300 career wins faster among NCAA coaches.

Auburn hasn’t been to the NCAA tournament since 2003, the longest drought in the SEC. The Tigers’ average attendance last season was 5,823, 13th in the league.

The last seven Auburn coaches have left with losing marks in the league, dating back to the Joel Eaves era from 1949-63. Pearl takes over a team that went 14-16 and loses three starters, including leading scorer Chris Denson.

Auburn hires Bruce Pearl as basketball coach

KDWN

AUBURN, Ala. (AP) — Auburn has hired former Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl to revive a struggling basketball program that hasn’t been to the NCAA tournament in more than a decade.

The school announced the hiring on Tuesday of the charismatic coach, who remains under a show-cause penalty from the NCAA into August. Pearl had plenty of success on the court, taking Tennessee to the NCAA tournament in each of his six seasons before getting fired in March 2011 in the wake of an NCAA investigation.

Spokesmen for Auburn and the NCAA did not immediately respond to emails regarding the show-cause status.

“I’m humbled and blessed to be back in the game that I love,” Pearl, who turned 54 on Tuesday, said in a statement. “I don’t know how long it will take, but it’s time to rebuild the Auburn basketball program, and bring it to a level of excellence so many of the other teams on campus enjoy.”

Auburn did not release terms of the deal with Pearl, who will be formally introduced Tuesday night.

Pearl replaces Tony Barbee, who was fired about two hours after the Tigers lost to South Carolina in the first round of the Southeastern Conference tournament. They went 18-50 in the SEC during Barbee’s four-year tenure, which coincided with the opening of the $90 million Auburn Arena.

“From the moment I met coach Pearl and heard his vision for our basketball program, it was clear he’s the right man at the right time for Auburn,” athletic director Jay Jacobs said. “Coach Pearl is a proven winner who will bring energy and excitement to our program. We have raised the bar for Auburn basketball, and I could not be more excited for our student-athletes and our future under Coach Pearl’s leadership. I know he agrees with me – it’s time to win.”

He was cited for unethical conduct for lying to investigators in June 1010 about improperly hosting recruits at his home. He was placed under a three-year show-cause penalty, which expires in late August.

It barred Pearl from recruiting during that span and any school seeking to hire him would have to ask the NCAA to remove that penalty.

He also was found to have interfered with the NCAA’s investigation after he contacted a recruit’s father who had also been interviewed by investigators.

Two months after his initial interview, he met again with NCAA investigators to tell them he had misled them.

Auburn hired former NCAA director of enforcement David Didion as an associate athletic director for compliance in April 2013.

Pearl has been working in private business in Knoxville, Tenn., and working as an ESPN analyst. He has led nine of his 10 Division I teams to the NCAA tournament, including three times in four seasons at Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

Only North Carolina’s Roy Williams reached 300 career wins faster among NCAA coaches.

Auburn hasn’t been to the NCAA tournament since 2003, the longest drought in the SEC. The Tigers’ average attendance last season was 5,823, 13th in the league.

The last seven Auburn coaches have left with losing marks in the league, dating back to the Joel Eaves era from 1949-63.