Bruce Pearl believes he has to do more than just win basketball games to earn the money Auburn has agreed to pay him.
According to the Opelika-Auburn News, the former University of Tennessee coach got a six-year deal worth $14.7 million after three years in NCAA-induced purgatory that prompted Tennessee to fire him in 2011. That’s an average of $2.45 million per year with a starting salary of $2.2 million for 2014-15 and an annual $100,000 raise.
The pact reportedly makes him the third-highest paid basketball coach in the SEC, behind only Kentucky’s John Calipari and Florida’s Billy Donovan.
“[Athletics director] Jay [Jacobs] talked about raising the bar in men’s basketball. Have you seen the contract I signed yet?” Pearl told the crowd at his introductory press conference, according to Auburn’s athletics website. “When you see this number, he raised the bar in men’s basketball.
“I’m going to work every day to reward Jay and I appreciate that. I just want to thank Jay and Dr. [Jay] Gogue for giving me a second chance. I’m grateful, truly humble and blessed to have this opportunity.”
Pearl wasted no time extending his influence beyond the arena. He jumped into a crowd that met him at the Auburn airport and prior to his formal introduction he bought pizza for a group of students.
"I will tell you this: You will see me on campus, you will see me in the classrooms,” he said. “If all Jay wanted me to do was coach the basketball team, which is my priority, then he doesn’t have the right person.”
Still, for a program that has not been to the NCAA tournament since 2003, the winning is the most important thing.
"We will play for championships at Auburn, there is no question in my mind," Pearl said.