March 18, 2014
AUBURN, Ala. -- Bruce Pearl, who has guided three different teams to 18 postseason appearances in 19 years, including six straight NCAA Tournament trips with Tennessee, has been named the head basketball coach at Auburn University, Director of Athletics Jay Jacobs announced Tuesday.
"I am excited to welcome Coach Bruce Pearl to the Auburn family," Jacobs said. "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."
"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 comes to Auburn as a 28-year veteran at the NCAA Division I and Division II level, with 19 years of experience as a head coach. He has led his teams to winning seasons in each of those 19 years, including an overall record of 462-145 (.761). Pearl took Tennessee to the NCAA Sweet Sixteen four times, and his 2010 team reached the Elite Eight. He helped Tennessee average 25.2 wins per season, and his average RPI with the Vols was 12.4.
"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. I'm thrilled to join the Auburn family and appreciative of this opportunity and the challenge that awaits."
Pearl has earned seven conference coach of the year awards and three national coach of the year honors. Under his tutelage, six student-athletes have been named player of the year by their league, and every four-year player coached at Tennessee earned their degree.
Pearl became Tennessee's head coach in 2005-06 and began the remarkable turnaround. One year after the Vols finished 14-17 and lost its top two scorers, Pearl led his squad to a 22-8 mark, earning a trip to the NCAA Tournament.
During his six seasons at UT, his teams never failed to make the NCAA Tournament, and in all but one season surpassed the 20-win plateau. The Vols won the 2008 regular season SEC Championship, claimed three SEC Eastern Division titles and earned the school's first-ever No. 1 ranking, with a school-record 31 wins.
Pearl took the head coaching job at UW-Milwaukee in 2001 and led the Panthers to the most successful season in school history in 2005, winning the regular season, conference tournament and UWM's first appearance in the NCAA Sweet Sixteen. In four years as the head coach at UW-Milwaukee, the Panthers won a pair of Horizon League titles (2004, 2005) and two Horizon League Tournament Championships (2003, 2005). They earned NCAA bids twice and played in the NIT in 2004.
Pearl's 51-13 (.797) record in Horizon League games gave him the best winning percentage by a coach in league history. He became the second-fastest coach to win 300 games with a win over Loyola on Jan. 8, 2005.
He earned his first head coaching job in 1992 at the University of Southern Indiana. Pearl inherited a team that had won just 10 games in the previous season and led them to a 22-7 mark and a trip to the NCAA DII Tournament. Over nine seasons, USI posted a 231-46 record and won four Great Lake Valley Conference Championships.
They received bids to the NCAA Tournament in each of the nine years and advanced to the Sweet Sixteen six times. The Screaming Eagles won the national championship in 1995, a year after finishing second.
Pearl began his coaching career as a student assistant at his alma mater, Boston College, with legendary head coach Dr. Tom Davis. When Davis left for Stanford, Pearl became a full-time member of the staff, and became the associate head coach at the age of 23. While in Palo Alto, the Cardinal ended a streak of 20 consecutive losing seasons. He then followed Davis to Iowa in 1986 where the Hawkeyes went to five NCAA Tournaments in six seasons. In six years, Iowa produced 11 NBA draft pics.
A native of Boston, Pearl earned his bachelor's degree in business administration from Boston College in 1982, graduating cum laude.