Auburn hires ex-Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl to lead downtrodden basketball program

The Associated Press

Auburn's new men's basketball coach, Bruce Pearl, waves to fans after he received a birthday cake from Auburn mascot Aubie on Tuesday, March 18, 2014, in Auburn, Ala. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)

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"I was disappointed in the actions of coach Pearl that led to his suspension and ultimate dismissal, but he will soon complete the requirements of his NCAA penalties," Slive said. "I have every expectation that he has learned his lesson and will run Auburn's basketball program in accordance with these expectations."

Auburn hired former NCAA director of enforcement David Didion as an associate athletic director for compliance in April 2013.

Pearl, who is 231-99 in Division I, has been working in private business in Knoxville, Tenn., and for ESPN. He has led eight of his 10 Division I teams to the NCAA tournament, including twice in four seasons at Wisconsin-Milwaukee and led Division II Southern Indiana to a national title in 1995.

Pearl led the Volunteers to the Sweet Sixteen four times and they made the Elite Eight in 2010.

Pearl inherited a Tennessee team that went 14-17 and lost its top two scorers, and took the Vols to a 22-8 record in his debut season, 2005-06.

Only North Carolina's Roy Williams reached 300 career wins faster among NCAA coaches.

The last seven Auburn coaches have left with losing marks in the league, dating back to the Joel Eaves era from 1949-63. Pearl takes over a team that went 14-16 and loses three starters, including leading scorer Chris Denson.

That didn't take away from his joy of being "baack."

"I'm truly humbled and I'm blessed to have this opportunity," Pearl said. "It's been a long three years being away from the game. One of the things that I just want to tell you is as a coach and even as a father, when I made the mistakes I made at Tennessee, I let a lot of people down.

"That's why I still walk around with pain."

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