Baird Calls Lebo A "Rising Star" As Hoops Coach

Comments from Jeff Lebo, Hal Baird and Dr. Ed Richardson are featured.

Auburn, Ala.--Jeff Lebo, who Hal Baird calls a "rising coaching star," will be introduced as Auburn's new basketball coach at a 3 p.m. Thursday press conference on the Auburn campus.

Lebo's hiring comes exactly three weeks after interim president Dr. Ed Richardson fired Cliff Ellis, who had held the position for the past 10 years. Baird, Auburn's associate athletic director and special assistant to Richardson, conducted the search for the new coach.

Lebo called his University of Tennessee-Chattanooga team for a meeting on Thursday morning to tell them he was taking the job at Auburn after two seasons in charge of the Mocs. Lebo had previously turned down offers to take over major programs at Virginia Tech and Iowa State. Lebo was 40-20 in two seasons in Chattanooga.

"I am excited about the opportunity to coach basketball at Auburn," Lebo said on Thursday. "I have been at Auburn a number of times as an opposing coach and I found it a difficult place to play. Since that time, I am convinced Auburn is a place that can have competitive success in basketball on a consistent basis." Lebo has SEC experience as an assistant coach at Vandy and South Carolina under Eddie Fogler.

"I was impressed with the commitment that the administration demonstrated towards having a successful program on the court and in the classroom," Lebo adds. "I look forward to getting started and building a program that will succeed in both areas."

Lebo comes to Auburn with six seasons of head coaching experience. He got his start as a head coach at Tennessee Tech, where in four years he took a program that had little success to a pair of Ohio Valley Conference titles. His overall coaching record is 115-63.

AU interim president Dr. Ed Richardson, who made the selection after interviewing Lebo on Wednesday on the Auburn campus, said, "I am pleased to welcome Jeff Lebo to the University and the Auburn community. In our discussions during the search process, Coach Lebo indicated he clearly understands the balance between athletics and academics.

"As a matter of fact, Jeff was an Academic All-ACC selection as a student. His commitment to the ideal of student-athletes makes him the right person for our program. I anticipate a long and productive tenure for Jeff at Auburn University."

Baird, who also brought VCU head coach Jeff Capel to campus for an interview with Richardson, said, "We are pleased and privileged to announce Jeff Lebo as the new basketball coach at Auburn. He brings a wealth of experience and success as a player at North Carolina under the winningest basketball coach in NCAA history and followed that with successful coaching tenures at two SEC schools as an assistant.

"As a head coach, he resurrected two programs at Tennessee Tech and Tennessee at Chattanooga. He is widely recognized as one of the young rising coaching stars in NCAA basketball."


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