AUBURN, Ala. — Longtime Auburn athletic director Jay Jacobs says he will step down by June 2018 as leader of a department hit by scandals in both the basketball and softball programs.
Jacobs announced Friday in a letter to Auburn fans that he informed President Steven Leath of his decision earlier this week. He says he will leave earlier if Auburn hires a replacement.
Jacobs, a former Auburn football walk-on, took over the athletic department at his alma mater in 2004.
In recent months, Auburn associate head basketball coach Chuck Person was arrested on federal fraud and bribery charges and a former softball player filed a Title IX sexual discrimination complaint.
“When something goes wrong, it is my responsibility,” Jacobs wrote. “I have always known that. I have always accepted that.
“The last several months have been a particularly difficult time. Across several sports, a series of controversies have arisen. They have begun to take their toll and have raised questions about why Auburn must endure such problems. As I have always done, I have worked my hardest and best to do what is right for Auburn.”
Person was suspended without pay after prosecutors said the former NBA player accepted about $91,500 in bribes to steer clients to a Pittsburgh-based financial adviser when they reached the NBA as part of a wide-spread investigation into corruption. Auburn is holding out two of its top players , center Austin Wiley and forward Danjel Purifoy, indefinitely.
In the softball case, Alexa Nemeth’s complaint says then-Auburn coach Clint Myers “knowingly let his son Corey Myers have relations and pursue relations with multiple members of the team.” Corey Myers resigned last fall and his father stepped down after the season.
Auburn has hired a Birmingham law firm to investigate those programs as well as allegations that a staffer took a test for a former football player.
“Auburn and Auburn Athletics are both better because of Jay’s years of service to his alma mater,” Leath said in a statement.
The department’s annual revenue grew from $46 million to $145 million during Jacobs’ tenure and the football team won the 2010 national title.
The school built Auburn Arena to house the basketball program, plus a $16 million 100-yard indoor practice facility and a $6 million wellness kitchen.
The Tigers have been up and down in football since Jacobs took over the department, but won the national title in 2010 and played for another three years later.
Jacobs hired former Tigers defensive coordinator Gene Chizik despite his 5-19 record at Iowa State. Chizik led the Tigers to a national title in 2010 but was fired two years later after a 3-9 season. Gus Malzahn took over in 2013 and led Auburn to the national championship game, but the Tigers haven’t topped eight wins since.
Jacobs also brought in former Tennessee basketball coach Bruce Pearl in 2014.