Ellis just completed a disappointing 14-14 season that was one year removed from a run into the NCAA Tournament Sweet 16. However, Ellis, who has coached the Tigers for 10 seasons, looks to be in major jeopardy of losing his job at AU.
Ellis said on Wednesday that he did not believe it was appropriate for him to comment on his job situation prior to meeting with Dr. Richardson. Last Thursday in Atlanta, following a disappointing showing in a first round loss to Georgia in the SEC Tournament, Ellis said he was surprised the question of his job status with the Tigers was even broached at his postgame press conference.
Ellis, who has been a college head coach for 29 years, has a record of 186-124 at Auburn following the 73-59 loss to Georgia. Ellis and the Tigers were hoping for a postseason bid to the National Invitational Tournament despite the setback in Atlanta, but an invitation did not come.
Ellis took over the Auburn program for the 1994-95 season and the Tigers were one of the pleasant surprise teams in the SEC with a 16-13 overall mark and a 7-9 league record. That team earned an NIT bid and the Tigers also played in the NIT in 1996, 1998 and 2001.
The Tigers made an NCAA Tournament appearance under Ellis in 1998-99 when AU won the second SEC men's basketball title in school history with a 14-2 league mark and a 29-4 overall record. That team advanced to the Sweet 16. His 2000 squad made the second round of the NCAA Tournament and last year's advanced to the Sweet 16. AU did not go to the NCAA or NIT tournaments in 1997, 2002 and again this year.
Ellis was named 1999 National Coach of the Year by the U.S. Basketball Writers Association, Associated Press, Sports Illustrated, The Sporting News and Basketball News. He also won the John Wooden Award that is presented annually to the national coach of the year.
The negatives on his Auburn resume include having seven seasons in which the Tigers have had a losing record in SEC play. His overall regular season league record is 73-86.
Ellis has also drawn criticism for not scheduling attractive non-conference opponents.
Although he was not named in the NCAA's investigation into Auburn's basketball recruiting, Ellis and his program appeared before the NCAA Committee on Infractions and are awaiting a decision from that group that is expected later this month or in April.
His 2003-2004 Auburn team was forecast to place second the SEC West, but finished fourth with a league record of 5-11 after getting off to a solid start in non-conference play even without the services of starting point guard Lewis Monroe, who was injured in the preseason and struggled after his return to action during conference play.
The Tigers ended the season with four juniors and one freshman in the lineup and the only significant senior on the 2003-2004 season is center Kyle Davis, who lost his starting job during the season.
Ellis has five years left on his contract after getting two-years added to the deal automatically for making a trip to the Sweet 16 last year. His buyout is $750,000, which is close to his total annual salary including endorsements and other outside income.