Auburn Hires Bruce Pearl as Basketball Coach

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AUBURN, Ala. -- Auburn hired Bruce Pearl as its new basketball coach Tuesday, bringing in a frequent visitor to the NCAA Tournament, a coach with SEC experience, a three-time national coach of the year and fan favorite.

Pearl coached at Tennessee from 2005 through the 2011 season, taking all six of his teams to the NCAA Tournament. He's been an ESPN basketball analyst the last several seasons.

"I'm humbled and blessed to be back in the game that I love," Pearl said. "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."

Pearl was the second fastest to 300 career wins in NCAA history, trailing only North Carolina's Roy Williams. Pearl is a two-time SEC coach of the yeaer.

Auburn Athletics Director Jay Jacobs welcomed his new coach.

"From the moment I met Coach Pearl and heard his vision for our basketball program, it was clear he's the right man at the right time for Auburn," Jacobs said.

"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."

Auburn basketball legend Charles Barkley endoresed the hire.

"Coach Pearl has a proven track record and he's a great fit for our program. WDE," Barkley said.

Pearl won a Division II national championship at Southern Indiana during the 1994-95 season. He went 231-46 in nine seasons there from 1992-2001. He spent the next four years at University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee where he went 86-36 that included two trips to the NCAA Tournament, including a trip to the Sweet 16.

He was hired at Tennessee in time for the 2005-06 season and promptly led the Vols, in order, to the NCAA Tournament's second round, two straight Sweet 16 appearances, a first-round game, the Elite Eight and back to the first round.

He went 145-61 at Tennessee in six seasons.

Pearl replaces Tony Barbee, who was dismissed last Wednesday at the end of a 14-16 record.

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