Bruce Pearl set to take the reigns at Auburn

Chris Procacina

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Former University of Southern Indiana and Tennessee basketball coach Bruce Pearl was hired Tuesday morning as the new head basketball coach at Auburn University.

Pearl’s contract is set for six years totaling $14.7 million, with $2.2 million dollars guaranteed in his first year. Every year after his first season, he will receive a pay raise of $100,000. If Pearl is fired his buyout will be half his current pay, earning him $1.1 million per year.

As head coach for the Eagles, Pearl compiled a record of 231–46 during his nine year run at USI. He managed to take the Eagles to nine straight NCAA DII tournaments, making it to the national title game twice and winning it in 1995.

His time at Tennessee proved equally successful. The Volunteers claimed the SEC regular season championship in 2008 as Pearl won his second SEC coach of the year award and made the NCAA Tournament each year he was there. He also became the second fastest coach to reach 300 NCAA victories during his time at Tennessee.

After a scandal involving current Ohio State player Aaron Craft attending a cookout hosted by Pearl, a violation of the NCAA rules, Pearl was fired from Tennessee on March 21, 2011. He was also given a 3 year show-cause penalty of the NCAA barring him from contacting potential recruits for any university that sought to hire him. The penalty will be lifted after August 23, 2014.

Mt. Vernon boy’s varsity basketball coach Marc Hostetter experienced Pearl first hand, both playing for and coaching beside him.

“I was fortunate that I came in during (Pearl’s) second year with the team. I played for four years and was an assistant coach under him for two more, so six total years,” Hostetter said.

A point guard for the  1995 Division II national championship team, Hostetter still sees the same genuine attitude from his former coach.

“People think what they see on TV is an act. Twenty-four hours a day, he has great energy and the ability to motivate you as an individual,” Hostetter said.

Hostetter was not surprised to see Pearl join the college coaching ranks again after his three year absence.

“It is like a drug. You get addicted and can’t get away from it,” Hostetter said. “I think being away from the game brought some perspective to that for coach Pearl.”

Pearl has expressed his excitement for the opportunity to once again join the coaching ranks of the SEC. According to a press release from Auburn’s official website, Pearl greeted fans and said, “I don’t know how long it’s going to take, but I want this same reception when we come back with a SEC championship!”

Auburn should feel somewhat familiar for Pearl, who will once again be coaching in the SEC. Auburn also gives him the chance to be associated with Eagles, only this time around, he will be screaming “War Eagle” instead of representing a Screaming Eagle.

Despite the fame associated from being a high powered DI coach, Pearl still remembers his roots. On March 10, he tweeted in response to USI winning the GLVC Tournament saying “@USIBBNetwork Go Eagles! Tradition!”

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