Auburn University president Jay Gogue on Friday confirmed that Bryan Harsin will continue to serve as head coach of its football program.
Reports circulated over the past week that suggested Harsin’s job security was in jeopardy due to the exodus of players and coaching staff personnel after the Tigers had posted a losing record during his first season as head coach.
Following allegations being levied against Harsin by former players who attributed the program’s woes to his accused mistreatment of student athletes, Gogue directed an institutional inquiry to be conducted regarding the validity of the claims.
In a public statement announcing the university’s decision to retain its head coach, Gogue outlined the institution’s review regarding the state of its football program.
“I am pleased to report that the evaluation of concerns raised regarding our football program is complete. I am equally pleased to confirm that Bryan Harsin remains our head football coach,” announced the outgoing university president.
“As an institution of higher education, Auburn will always take the action necessary to ensure the well-being of its students, faculty, and staff. Recently, individuals raised concerns to my administration about the football program,” added Gogue. “The nature of these concerns compelled a fact-finding review. To do nothing would have been an abdication of the university’s responsibilities.”
According to Gogue, the university’s review of its football program included receiving feedback from those formerly associated with Harsin during his tenure at the helm.
“Over the past week, my administration conducted that review,” he continued. “It included meetings and interviews with current and former football coaching and administrative staff, numerous players, university administrators and other individuals who offered perspective on the issues that had been raised.”
“To be clear, this process, which was never individual- or outcome-specific, did not yield information that should change the status of our coaching staff or football program,” Gogue advised. “All should understand that in matters such as these the roles of the university administration and the Board of Trustees are distinct and separate. To be very specific, the decisions made were mine alone as the president. The Board played no role in the fact-finding or the decision-making process.”
Gogue made mention of what he referred to as the “wild speculation” and “substantial misinformation” surrounding the matter which he said had been fueled by social media. He indicated that Auburn would not “legitimize reckless rumors or innuendos” by offering public comment.
Gogue stated that Harsin had fully cooperated with the inquiry which left the president “convinced as ever” in Harsin’s “commitment to our student-athletes’ on-and off-field success and his vision for our program.”
Harsin in a statement shed light into how the situation affected his family.
“This has been one of the hardest weeks of my career and it had nothing to do with my coaching ability,” proclaimed the head coach. “The personal attacks on me and my family went too far and were without justification. Their resolve through this experience has been incredible but also completely expected. We saw and felt the worst of the worst in some people. Fortunately, we also saw the best of the best in others and we will always be grateful for the support of so many through a very difficult time – our players, staff, the Auburn family, and many others.”
Harsin went on to express what he asserted to be the need for the Auburn community to “commit to each other and this great university that we all love.” Harsin conveyed his confidence in university leadership’s determination to build a successful football program.
Dylan Smith is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @DylanSmithAL