The Tigers ended the four-year relationship with Gene Chizik that brought Auburn a national championship, but also the school’s first winless campaign in Southeastern Conference play, which ended on Saturday with a 49-0 loss to rival Alabama.
The news was announced Sunday in a statement by Auburn Director of Athletics Jay Jacobs. A news conference is planned for later today.
“I’m extremely disappointed with the way this season turned out and I apologize to the Auburn family and our team for what they have had to endure,” Chizik said in a statement released by the university. “In my 27 years of coaching, I have gained an understanding of the high expectations in this profession.
“When expectations are not met, I understand changes must be made.”
After coming to Auburn with a 5-19 career record at Iowa State, Chizik greatly exceeded most expectations by guiding the Tigers to a perfect season in 2010 and earning the Bowl Championship Series national title.
However, things went south quickly. After an 8-5 season in 2011, Chizik’s team went 3-9 this season and was haunted by a trail of offseason incidents under his watch, including multiple arrests of players.
Auburn wasted no time in beginning the search for Chizik’s replacement. A search committee has been formed, Jacobs said, and will work with him to fill the void.
The committee features two of Auburn’s three Heisman Trophy winners, Bo Jackson and Pat Sullivan, and Mac Crawford, who played at Auburn in the late 1960s and is currently a private equity investor in the healthcare services industry.
The search for a new coach will be complicated by the amount of money that is still due to Chizik and his staff after they were awarded lucrative contract extensions after the Tigers’ national championship. The total buyout for Chizik and his nine full-time assistants is $11.09 million, according to Auburn University.
The money will be paid out to all in monthly installments of varying lengths, depending on their contracts, and the payments could decrease if the coaches find other work.
Chizik ended his prepared statement with an up-beat message to the Auburn family.
“As I said four years ago when I arrived, Auburn was great way before we got here and it will remain great long after we leave,” he said. “My sentiments about Auburn have not and will not change. I wish the next football coach all the best and I anticipate a smooth transition.
“I encourage the Auburn family to continue to be ‘All In’ and support this great university and its athletics programs. War Eagle!”
Assistant Managing Editor Bran Strickland: 256-235-3590. On Twitter @Bran_Strickland.