Here's what Auburn basketball coach Bruce Pearl said about new athletics director John Cohen

Richard Silva
Montgomery Advertiser

AUBURN — Auburn made it official Monday evening: John Cohen is the university's next athletics director.

One of Cohen's more promising programs that he can look to for success early in his tenure is the men's basketball team, led by coach Bruce Pearl.

Pearl guided the Tigers to a regular-season conference title and a No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament last season before being bounced in the second round by No. 10 Miami. Regardless of the final outcome, it was a historic season for the program, especially considering Jabari Smith Jr. was selected third overall in the 2022 NBA Draft, the highest an Auburn player has ever been drafted.

"Man, I'm excited about John Cohen. I really am," Pearl said Tuesday. "I mean, the guy has got unbelievable experience. Obviously tremendous SEC experience, tremendous experience in the region, having grown up in Alabama and coached at different places. He coached all throughout the SEC as an assistant. ...

"I know that commissioner (Greg) Sankey holds him in tremendously high regard. ... And then (he has) high character and (is) very, very intelligent. (He) obviously sees Auburn as a place where you can do even more than what he's done at Mississippi State."

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Cohen's first move at Auburn was to promote Rich McGlynn, who served as interim athletics director before Cohen was hired, to deputy athletics director, an action Pearl supports.

"It was very, very wise of him to elevate Rich McGlynn to deputy AD, and to take advantage of Rich's talents and his abilities," Pearl said. "I think Rich was a legitimate candidate for the job, so I think we got the best of both worlds. Someone that has been on campus and has a great reputation on campus like Rich will enable John to come in and be effective day one."

Pearl said if the new athletic director asks for his advice, he's willing to give it.

"He had a great job, and they loved him down there. And he was a legend down there," Pearl said. "He understands our challenges, but he understands our goals also. So I think he's going to be tremendous."