Former Iowa men’s basketball assistant coach Bruce Pearl is taking over the Auburn program.
“I’m humbled and blessed to back in the game that I love,” Pearl said in a statement on the school’s official website, www.auburntigers.com. “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 Athletics Director Jay Jacobs told the website that Pearl was “the right man for the job.”
“Coach Pearl is a proven winner who will bring energy and excitement to our program,” Jacobs said. “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.”
Auburn recently fired coach Tony Barbee, hours after the Tigers finished 14-16 and lost in the first round of the Southeastern Conference tournament.
Pearl, 54, has been with ESPN the last two years. Previously, he was fired amid numerous recruiting violations after six years at Tennessee that included a 145-61 record. He led the Volunteers to a No. 1 ranking in 2008.
Pearl was an assistant at Iowa under Tom Davis from 1986 to 1992. During his time with the Hawkeyes, Pearl became best remembered for his involvement with the Deon Thomas recruiting scandal, in which he secretly tape-recorded the player discussing the receipt of cash and an SUV from rival Illinois.
Pearl recruited two players on the Tennessee roster that will face Iowa in a first-round NCAA game Wednesday. Neither player sounded real thrilled about the news.
“We ain’t got no comments on the Auburn situation,” senior forward Jeronne Maymon said. “We’re here to talk about Tennessee.”
Added senior guard Jordan McRae, “What Jeronne said.”
Rick Brown contributed to this report