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Bruce Pearl is hired by Auburn

Mar 18, 2014, 11:21 AM EDT

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Former Tennessee head coach Bruce Pearl has accepted the Auburn job that opened up when Tony Barbee was fired last week, the school announced in a press release on Tuesday morning.

“I’m humbled and blessed to be back in the game that I love,” Pearl said. “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 met with Auburn AD Jay Jacobs on Monday night in Knoxville, where he still lives, according to a report from

The headline of Auburn’s release begins, simply, “Splash!”, and it’s fitting. Pearl was one of the hottest names in college hoops this offseason, a guy that was likely to be pursued by a number of different programs. Pearl has built an impressive track record for developing successful programs. He took Milwaukee to a pair of NCAA tournaments in four years, which included a trip to the Sweet 16 in 2005 as a No. 12 seed. He was hired away to Tennessee after that season, where he turned the Vols into a power in the SEC. He went 145-61 in six seasons, made an Elite 8 and was ranked No. 1 in the country at one point.

He lost the Tennessee job in March of 2011 after lying to the NCAA during their investigation of violations that he committed during the recruitment of now-Ohio State guard Aaron Craft. He had Craft over to his house for a barbecue, which was a no-no, and got caught in a lie during the NCAA’s investigation. Then, while the NCAA was determining what his punishment would be, he was caught breaking NCAA rules again, “bumping” a recruit during an on-campus visit when no contact was allowed.

He was given a three-year show-cause penalty, which can be a death sentence for a basketball coach’s career, that expires in August. One important note: Pearl will be allowed to be out recruiting during the all-important July evaluation period, which should help him jump start his Auburn tenure.

Perhaps the best nugget of info from this hire is that the lead investigator for the NCAA on Pearl’s case is now working in the compliance office at Auburn.

Auburn will be a similar rebuilding job to Tennessee: A football school in the SEC with largely no basketball tradition and a large, but mostly dormant, fan base.

He had spent his time away from coaching in part working as an ESPN TV analyst.

  1. sportsfan18 - Mar 18, 2014 at 12:07 PM

    Some people just have “it”.

    I don’t condone what he did at all. I’m glad he was punished. I’m not really a fan of his. I live in the Knoxville area and he came to speak to our employees one year during the annual United Way campaign drive.

    He was charming, engaging, funny and an all around hit while talking to about 150 East TN employees.

    He had energy, bounded around like Tigger. Of course, at the time no one knew of his transgressions yet and he was improving the UT basketball team…

    The picture of him hugging Lane Kiffin’s wife was weird though… Guessing he really wanted her. Heard stories from his children, his daughter especially that she didn’t like her daddy being around so many younger (but legal) women… he was divorced…

    This is America, I guess we give second chances. The race is on at Auburn to see if he may turn around their basketball program before he get’s caught with his hand in places it isn’t supposed to be and gets in trouble again.

    I don’t think he can change his spots. But he IS a good basketball coach and he his charming and engaging. I guess that’s why he tries so hard to get in front of recruits and to talk to them, he knows he’s a good closer once he’s in front of someone…

  2. cranespy - Mar 18, 2014 at 12:41 PM

    terrible hire……way too much ego……

  3. fatediesel - Mar 18, 2014 at 1:14 PM

    Great hire. Auburn’s basketball team has been horrible for year and needed a big hire, and Pearl has won everywhere he’s been.

  4. mrlaloosh - Mar 18, 2014 at 3:22 PM

    Auburn had to turn the barrel over to scrap this slug off as a new coach.
    Big fail.

  5. onlyoneleft - Mar 18, 2014 at 3:39 PM

    Awbarn stooped pretty low to do this, but, then, that is par for SEC schools. This guy is at the bottom of the barrel.

  6. musketmaniac - Mar 18, 2014 at 4:01 PM


  7. ajonesmc931 - Mar 19, 2014 at 5:48 AM

    U guys crazy this was a home run for the auburn bball program..haters and from the sounds of it some bammers too

  8. El Pollo Loco - Mar 19, 2014 at 9:59 AM

    If pearl is a liar and a cheater what does that make the NCAA?ask schools like Boise St about the NCAA hypocrisy

  9. klownboy - Mar 19, 2014 at 1:00 PM

    GREAT hire by Auburn. Say what you want about Pearl, but dude is a charismatic winner.

  10. musketmaniac - Mar 19, 2014 at 1:57 PM

    my love and hate relationship with the ncaa continues. what an organization `Liars and cheaters welcome.

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