AUBURN - Following Friday morning's meeting of the Auburn University Board of Trustees, president Jay Gogue answered questions about the school's beleaguered football program.
Auburn (2-8, 0-7 SEC) is in the midst of its worst season in 60 years and speculation has run rampant about the job security of athletic director Jay Jacobs and football coach Gene Chizik.
“We review all the programs, including the administrative people after every season,” Gogue said. “You never know till the season’s over what you got. So we will wait till the end of the season and review the program.”
Asked if he was happy with the current state of the program, Gogue responded: "I’d be foolish if I were happy with it, we’re not as competitive as we thought we’d be."
Chizik has been under fire for weeks. The fourth-year Tigers coach is under contract through 2015 but has a buyout which depreciates to $7.5 million on Dec. 1.
As for how much input he receives from the Board of Trustees regarding personnel decisions, “it’s a decision I have to make. The Board has a policy role and not in a hiring of individuals.”
Gogue said he will "certainly listen" to Jacobs' recommendation when evaluating the football program. Jacobs attended the early portion of Friday's meeting but did not return after a the board called for a closed-door Executive Session.
In evaluating his athletic director, Gogue cited five factors: academics, SEC and NCAA rules compliance, game day experience, budget and finance and competitive performance. The same five areas are listed on Jacobs' profile on the Auburn athletics website.
On Oct. 25, Gogue issued a statement to the “Auburn Family” via the school's website.
“I know your concerns are sincere and heartfelt, and I share many of them. As we do every year, the football program will be evaluated in an objective, thorough and professional process,” Gogue wrote in the statement. Last week, the university said “nothing has changed” in Gogue's stance and he reiterated such on Friday.
Asked about the concerns he cited in his previous statement, Gogue said he recognizes the disappointment of fans.
“I would say that I share the concerns that we haven’t performed on the field as well as I would have expected and I think as well as our fans would have expected,” he said. “They’re just like all of us, they’ve been disappointed in the performance this year of the football team and it’s certainly legitimate. We all have (been disappointed). At the end of the season, we’ll have a chance to sit down and review where we are.”
Gogue said there are concerns about off-the-field issues as well. Asked specifically about his reaction to the Advertiser's report that the football program has contracted with a private security firm to help enforce player curfews, Gogue said he read about it but was unaware of its accuracy.
“I saw that in the newspaper,” he said. “Whether or not it’s accurate or not I have no idea.”
Chizik confirmed the use of personnel from the Event Operations Group to help enforce player curfews.
Notes: Linebacker Ashton Richardson was recognized by the Board for being named a Rhodes Scholar finalist. Richardson thanked Jacobs, Dr. Paul Harris and his parents for their support. He left for Birmingham where he will interview Saturday morning. … The Board approved the advancement of a $1.2 million project to renovate the locker rooms at Plainsman Park. The funds are from a gift to the athletic department. ... The Board approved the posthumous awarding of a Bachelor's of Science in Physical Activity and Health to Joseph Bagwell. Bagwell, a former student assistant with the football team, passed away of Sept. 23 shortly before the LSU game. ... The Board also approved the awarding of a Bachelor of Humane Letters to James Owens, Auburn's first African-American football player. Owens received the first James Owens Courage Award on Sept. 14.