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Auburn University hires Bruce Pearl as men's basketball coach

Bruce Pearl (Paul Archuleta/Getty Images) Bruce Pearl had been working as an analyst for ESPN. (Paul Archuleta/Getty Images)

Auburn hired Bruce Pearl as its men's basketball coach on Tuesday, the school announced on its athletic website.

The 54-year-old, who was the 2008 national coach of the year, last coached at Tennessee, taking the Volunteers to the NCAA tournament all six of his seasons there, including a trip to the 2010 Elite Eight.

Pearl was fired in March 2011, a few months after NCAA violations surfaced, causing him to be suspended for the first eight SEC games that season. He is still under a show-cause penalty for lying about the violations, meaning he cannot be in contact with recruits until the end of August.

"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."

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Auburn's football team played in the BCS national championship game this year, but the basketball team struggled, finishing the season 14-16 overall and 6-12 in conference, prompting the firing of coach Tony Barbee. The Tigers haven't reached the NCAA tournament since 2003 and haven't had a winning season since 2009.

Pearl was the second fastest coach to 300 career wins in NCAA history, trailing only North Carolina's Roy Williams, according to the school.

"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," said Auburn athletics director Jay Jacobs. "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."

Pearl was 145-61 at Tennessee. He also coached four seasons at Wisconsin-Milwaukee, where he was 86-38 and advanced to the 2005 Sweet Sixteen, and nine seasons at Southern Indiana, where he won the 1995 Division II national championship.

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