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Bruce Pearl tapped as Auburn basketball coach

JTA

March 19, 2014 | 1:51 pm

Bruce Pearl with NCAA women's basketball coaching legend Pat Summitt

Bruce Pearl with NCAA women's basketball coaching legend Pat Summitt

Bruce Pearl, who led the U.S. team to the gold medal at the 2009 Maccabiah Games, was hired as the head coach of the Auburn University men’s basketball team.

The former coach at the University of Tennessee, Pearl was hired Tuesday to replace Tony Barbee, who was fired last week. Pearl reportedly signed a six-year contract worth $2.2 million per year.

He moved to ESPN as a college basketball analyst after being fired at the Southeastern Conference school in 2012 for recruiting violations. Auburn also belongs to the SEC.

“I’m humbled and blessed to back in the game that I love,” Pearl, a founding member of the Jewish Coaches Association, said in a statement. “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.”

The three-time national coach of the year had led Tennessee to the NCAA Tournament for five consecutive seasons prior to his firing. Before Knoxville, where he gained national attention for painting his upper body orange for a women’s basketball game, Pearl had enjoyed success in coaching stops at Milwaukee and Div. II Southern Indiana.

His American squad at the Maccabiah Games defeated host Israel, 95-86, in overtime to claim the gold medal. His son Steven was a member of his Maccabiah and Tennessee teams.

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