Iowa State athletic director Jamie Pollard confirmed an earlier report from Inside the Auburn Tigers that Chizik was leaving Ames for Auburn.
"Gene confirmed for me today that he is accepting the head coaching position at Auburn," Pollard said. "I'm disappointed for our Iowa State fans and student-athletes that he has chosen to leave our program after only two seasons. I understand that it (Auburn) is a dream job for him, but the timing and the way it played out has been hurtful and disappointing.
"Although this is a significant setback, we will get through the challenge because the Iowa State University athletics program is far greater than one person."
Auburn athletic Director Jay Jacobs, on returning to Auburn on Saturday afternoon to the Robert G. Pitts Airport, was jeered by fans unhappy about the coaching choice as he got off a flight returning from a meeting with Chizik in Memphis. Jacobs told reporters waiting at the airport that he wouldn't confirm nor deny reports about Chizik being Auburn's new head coach, but said the process has been going well.
Just before 9 p.m. on Saturday, AU announced the hiring. "I'm extremely proud and excited to have Gene returning to Auburn to take over as head football coach of this program," Jacobs said. "I know that we have found the right fit for Auburn. Gene's body of work during his 23 years in this profession is remarkable.
"He has a strong knowledge of this athletics program, this university and the community, and he knows how to be successful in the Southeastern Conference. He is a high-energy coach that is an outstanding motivator and demands a tough, physical style of football. I'm confident that Gene can build upon the foundation that has been established and make this a program that competes for championships on a consistent basis."
Auburn president Jay Gogue and two of the assistant athletic directors who helped with the search, Tim Jackson and Mark Richard, returned on the flight with Jacobs on Saturday.
Chizik, who spent three seasons at Auburn, wasn't with Jacobs when the athletic director got off the plane in Auburn. Chizik returned to Ames to tell his players goodbye before heading to Auburn to take on his new job responsibilities.
Chizik, who made approximately $1.1 million a year coaching the Cyclones, has a $750,000 buyout to get out of his contract at Iowa State. The man he is replacing, Tommy Tuberville, made $2.8 million a year and is receiving a $5.1 million buyout.
Iowa State posted a 3-9 overall record Chizik's first season in Ames after making the move from the University of Texas, where he served as defensive coordinator and assistant head coach for two seasons. He was in Austin for the Longhorns' 2005 national championship season.
This year's Iowa State team posted a 2-10 mark and was 0-8 in the Big 12, down from a 2-6 league mark the previous season. The Cyclones lost their last 10 games.
Gene Chizik hugs former Auburn safety Junior Rosegreen after Auburn's 2004 road win vs. the Tennessee Volunteers.
Chizik served as defensive coordinator at Auburn under Tommy Tuberville from 2002-2004. Auburn's 2004 team finished as the SEC champions and closed the season with a 13-0 record. The Tigers led the nation in scoring defense, allowing 11.3 points per contest that season.
His Iowa State coaching staff features assistants with Auburn connections. Defensive line coach Mike Pelton played for the Tigers. Jeff Koontz, who coaches defensive backs, earned a degree at Auburn while a student assistant coach and made the moves with Chizik to Texas and Iowa State. Wayne Bolt, who coaches linebackers, was an assistant under Pat Dye at Auburn.
While working for the Tigers, Chizik won the Frank Broyles Award as the nation's top assistant coach.
Chizik, who coached defensive backs for Auburn and Texas in addition to coordinating the defense, was the position coach for Auburn's Carlos Rogers, who won the 2004 Thorpe Award as the nation's top defensive back. In 2005 and 2006, Texas players Michael Huff and Aaron Ross won the Thorpe Award. All three players are currently on NFL teams.
Prior to his arrival at Auburn, Chizik was defensive coordinator at the University of Central Florida for four seasons. He made the move to Orlando from Stephen F. Austin where he coached the linebackers from 1992-94 and the secondary from 1995-97. He served as defensive coordinator his last two seasons for the Lumberjacks.
Chizik got his start in college coaching as a graduate assistant at Clemson in 1988 and 1989 before moving to Middle Tennessee State for two seasons as a full-timer who coached defensive ends. His teams there made the Division I-AA playoffs and won a conference title in 1990.
Chizik began coaching in the high school ranks. He was defensive coordinator at Seminole High School in St. Petersburg, Fla., from 1986-88.
A native of Clearwater, Fla., Chizik earned his undergraduate degree in education from Florida in 1985 where was he was a member of the football team. He earned his masters in counseling at Clemson in 1991.
Chizik, who was named head coach at Iowa State prior to the 2007 season, brought excitement to Ames as fans set a school record for season ticket sales (36,000) and the average attendance of 49,462 was the best for the Cyclones since 1982.
Chizik and his wife Jonna are the parents of twin daughters, Landry and Kennedy, and have a son named Cally.