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Auburn has made a big move to improve its men’s basketball program, which hasn’t gone to the NCAA tournament in over a decade. The school announced on Tuesday that it has hired former Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl as their new coach.
Pearl was fired from Tennessee in March 2011 during an NCAA investigation into recruiting violations. He is currently serving a show-cause penalty that expires in August. Pearl lied to investigators in June 2010 about hosting recruits in his home. He also interfered with the NCAA’s investigation and told the NCAA two months after his first interview that he had misled them.
Auburn has 30 days to file a report to the Committee on Infraction that either contests or accepts Pearl’s show-cause penalty, which prevents him from recruiting until Aug. 23, according to the Associated Press.
"I'm humbled and blessed to be back in the game that I love," Pearl 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."
Tony Barbee, who was fired last week, is the coach that Pearl replaces. The Tigers finished this season with a 14-16 record and were 6-12 in the SEC. In four seasons with the Tigers, Barbee went 49-75.
Pearl was at Milwaukee for four seasons and took them to two NCAA tournaments. He spent six seasons with Tennessee and was 145-61 and went to the NCAA tournament every year while there, according to ESPN.
In Division I, Pearl has a 231-99 record. Nine of the ten Division I teams that he has coached have gone to the NCAA tournament with him as the coach. The last time that Auburn made it to the NCAA tournament was 2003, which is the longest drought in the SEC.
It will be interesting to see if Pearl can lead the Tigers to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2003.