AUBURN, Ala. (WATE) - Auburn University announced Tuesday it has hired Bruce Pearl as its new head basketball coach.
"I'm humbled and blessed to be back in the game that I love," Pearl said in an Auburn news release. "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."
"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," said Auburn Athletics Director Jay Jacobs.
Pearl replaces Tony Barbee, who was dismissed last Wednesday at the end of a 14-16 record.
Pearl was the former head coach at the University of Tennessee from 2005 to 2011, taking all six of his teams to the NCAA Tournament.
Things began to unravel for Pearl in late 2010. He was accused of not only breaking NCAA recruiting rules, but lying to investigators about those violations. Tennessee penalized him $1.5 million and banned him from some off-campus recruiting. The Southeastern Conference ordered him to serve an eight-game suspension.
Then came a 30-point loss to Michigan in the first round of the 2011 NCAA tournament. Three days later, Pearl and three assistant coaches were fired. Missouri State University head coach Cuonzo Martin was hired to replace Pearl less than a week later.
Since his firing, Pearl has served as vice president of Knoxville-based wholesale distributor H.T. Hackney Co. and as an ESPN analyst.
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