Auburn AD Jay Jacobs Stepping Down After 13 Years As School Deals With Myriad Issues
Auburn AD Jay Jacobs is "stepping down" on June 1 -- "or sooner" if a successor is in place, according to Josh Vitale of the OPELIKA-AUBURN NEWS. Auburn President Steven Leath in a statement said that Jacobs will "continue to have a role" as AD Emeritus. Jacobs' decision "comes on the heels of a tumultuous few months that have seen scandal after scandal affect the athletic department." A former softball player in May "filed a Title IX complaint against then-softball coach Clint Myers and his son," while men's basketball associate head coach Chuck Person was "arrested and charged with six counts of federal corruption" on Sept. 26 amid the FBI's probe of college hoops. More recently, former Auburn assistant track & field coach Adrian Ghioroaie-Panait filed a lawsuit against the university, "alleging discrimination and that another member of the coaching staff physically assaulted him" in '15. Vitale noted the construction of Auburn Arena and the jumbotron in the south end zone at Jordan-Hare Stadium were "done under Jacobs’ watch," as were the soccer and track & field complexes and football practice facility. Jordan-Hare Stadium also is in the midst of a $28M renovation. Jacobs, who has been AD since '04, was named the '16-17 NACDA AD of the Year after "guiding the athletics department to a profit" for a second straight fiscal year (OPELIKA-AUBURN NEWS, 11/4).
MIXED LEGACY? In Birmingham, James Crepea noted Auburn won 12 national championships during Jacobs' tenure, though only the '10 BCS National Championship was "from a revenue sport." But while revenue "soared over the past 13 years" under Jacobs, there were years where the athletic department "operated at a loss due in large part to enormous buyouts for coaches Jacobs both hired and later fired," specifically former football coach Gene Chizik and former men's basketball coach Tony Barbee. Meanwhile, plans to "renovate the North end zone of Jordan-Hare have repeatedly stalled due to insufficient fundraising and various portions have been broken off for separate smaller projects" (AL.com, 11/4).
BREAKING IT DOWN: In Birmingham, Kevin Scarbinsky wrote Jacobs' departure is "long overdue." His announcement was "one of the most eagerly anticipated days in the recent history" of Auburn athletics "based on the public and private feelings of so many people who care about the university." The "misguided hires that looked good on the front end but eventually blew up in his face and the internal scandals gone public across multiple sports became too much for the AD with the second-longest tenure in the SEC to weather any longer." The environment inside the athletics department had also "grown toxic." Current employees were "telling former colleagues they didn't know whom to trust anymore." One key example of how the public portrait of the AD "didn't match the private persona was the relationship between Jacobs and the last football coach he hired, Gus Malzahn." Scarbinsky: "Perceived as allies, their relationship had deteriorated over time" (AL.com, 11/3). In Alabama, Matthew Stevens offered a "list of six candidates either Auburn officials might be interested in or should be interested in to fill" the AD opening (MONTGOMERY ADVERTISER, 11/4).