AUBURN BASKETBALL: Jay Jacobs did due diligence with Bruce Pearl's show-cause penalty before making hire

Print
Font Size:
Default font size
Larger font size

Related Links

Posted: Tuesday, March 18, 2014 9:50 pm

Before hiring Bruce Pearl, Auburn athletic director Jay Jacobs did his homework.

Pearl comes to Auburn with five months left on his three-year show-cause penalty which was handed down by the NCAA in 2011 when he was cited with a “failure to monitor the program” charge after lying during an investigation regarding impermissible contact with a recruit while he was the head coach at Tennessee.

Pearl admitted to misleading NCAA investigators about photos taken of him and Aaron Craft, who ended up going to Ohio State, at a 2008 cookout at his home.

Prior to naming him Tony Barbee’s replacement, however, Jacobs said he and the university’s compliance department thoroughly vetted Pearl and his show-cause penalty.

David Didion, who was the NCAA’s director of enforcement during Pearl’s show-cause investigation before accepting a job in Auburn’s compliance department last spring, was heavily involved in the process.

“I asked Dave, ‘If I have a chance, could I hire Bruce Pearl? Would you recommend Bruce Pearl?’” Jacobs said Tuesday night after Pearl’s introductory press conference. “He said, ‘Absolutely.’

“Dave is a tough NCAA enforcement guy, and when he told me that … What Dave said carried a lot of weight with me.”

Jacobs added that the confirmation he got from Didion allowed him to move forward in the hiring process and talk with other people about Pearl.

Auburn also talked with the NCAA before making the hire.

“If Dave had said, ‘Absolutely not,’ and explained to me why, it wouldn’t have happened,” Jacobs said. “I wouldn’t have moved forward. But I started with him.”

Jacobs said after meeting Pearl at his house in Knoxville, Tenn., Monday night, he was convinced Pearl was not only sorry for his mistake, but was the right man to rebuild Auburn basketball.

But it wasn’t a quick decision for Jacobs, who started talks with Pearl on Friday, two days after firing Barbee.

“I thought about his reputation for so long,” Jacobs said. “And it was a struggle for me, because of my values and the values we have in our department. I really struggled with it. But I also believe in second chances. And so when I sat with him, (I was) easily convinced that he’s repented and it was a mistake, not a character flaw.

“I thought, ‘You know what, this is a guy that deserves a second chance. This is a guy that can win. And if anybody will embrace somebody for a mistake they’ve made, the Auburn family will.’”

Pearl will not be able to recruit until Aug. 24, the day after his show-cause penalty expires.

As of Tuesday, Jacobs said Auburn had no immediate plans to petition the NCAA for a waiver to try to remove Pearl’s sanctions prior to the August date.

“We’re just going to take that one day at a time,” Jacobs said. “Right now, he’s been penalized and he’s got a few months left on that penalty, and he and I have come to the conclusion that we’re going to operate as if he’s still under that show-cause moving forward.

“If we have the opportunity to do anything, we may. … If there’s a waiver process or something that we decide we would like to ask them, we will. But if not, we have a plan to operate so it doesn’t set us back too far.”

Pearl is the first coach with an active show-cause penalty to be hired by another program.

Only one other coach has been hired by a school after such a sanction. Morgan State hired Todd Bozeman in 2006 after he received an eight-year show-cause penalty in 1997 while at Cal.

SEC Commissioner Mike Slive, who suspended Pearl for eight games during the 2010-11 season for lying to NCAA investigators, said he hopes Auburn did its “due diligence” when making the hire.

“Our institutions understand the expectations their coaches must meet in terms of compliance with NCAA and SEC rules,” Slive said in a statement released Tuesday afternoon by the conference. “I trust Auburn has done its due diligence throughout the hiring process. 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. I have every expectation that he has learned his lesson and will run Auburn’s basketball program in accordance with these expectations.”

Pearl said he’s learned from what happened and owned up to his mistakes.

“It’s been a long three years being away from the game, and one of the things that I wanted to tell you as a coach and even as a father is when I made mistakes that I made at Tennessee, I let a lot of people down,” Pearl said during his press conference. “… I still walk around in pain.”

But he added later that he believes in accountability, telling the truth, learning from mistakes and teaching, even joking that he wanted to teach an ethics class at Auburn.

“One of the best ways we can continue to operate is by being accountable,” he said.

  1. Alabama Auburn Basketball

    Auburn coach Bruce Pearl gets upset with a call against his team late in the second half against Alabama.
  2. Kentucky at Auburn mbb

    The Auburn fans storm the court to celebrate with the players after Auburn beat Kentucky 75-70 on Saturday, Jan 16, 2016 in Auburn.
  3. Tyler Harris SEC Tournament

    Auburn forward Tyler Harris goes up for a shot against Tennessee on Wednesday in the opening round of the Southestern Conference Tournament in Nashville, Tenn.
  4. Auburn hoops Texas A&M

    Auburn guard T.J. Dunans dribbles by Texas A&M guard Kobie Eubanks during Tuesday's loss at Auburn Arena. Dunans and the Tigers close out the regular season on Saturday at Mississippi State with the 11th seed in next week's SEC Tournament on the line.
  5. Kentucky at Auburn mbb

    Auburn fans and team storm the court after beating Kentucky 75-70. Kentucky at Auburn men's basketball on Saturday, Jan 16, 2016 in Auburn, Ala.
  6. Bryce Brown Auburn-Mercer

    Bryce Brown (2) celebrates hitting a three-pointer on Tuesday against Mercer.
  7. Kentucky at Auburn mbb

    Auburn's Tyler Harris saves a loose ball in the second half against Kentucky on Saturday, Jan 16, 2016 in Auburn, Ala.
  8. LSU Auburn Basketball

    LSU's Ben Simmons drive to the basket against Auburn in the first half of their NCAA college basketball game on Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2016 in Auburn. LSU won 80-68.
  9. Horace Spencer Oklahoma State

    Auburn freshman forward Horace Spencer attempts a hook shot against Oklahoma State on Saturday. Spencer had a career night against the Cowboys, finishing with six points, 11 rebounds and six blocks in the loss.
  10. Alabama Auburn Basketball

    Auburn's Kareem Canty shoots a 3-pointer against Alabama in the first half of their NCAA college basketball game on Tuesday, Jan 19, 2016 in Auburn.