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.
“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.
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.