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May 14, 2013

Jacobs outlines plan

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AUBURN | The six-person committee charged with performing an independent review of the athletic department has expressed confidence that Jay Jacobs still is the right man for the job.

The next step is underway -- with assistance from California.

University president Jay Gogue said Monday that there exists "room for substantial improvement" within the department while committee member Mac Crawford, a noted businessman from Nashville, said "there are some areas where improvements can be made."

Jacobs agreed with both assertions.

Speaking to the Auburn Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday morning, the Tigers' athletic director spoke in vague terms about how he plans to improve his department's effectiveness. He identified six major areas of emphasis:

** Finding ways to "improve our overall operations so we're sharper and even more professional."

** Finding ways to "enhance the gameday and game weekend experience."

** Refining how the department interacts and communicates with fans and alumni.

** "Keep developing our major sports and our Olympic sports."

** Find ways to improve facilities "in a smart way that makes sense for Auburn."

** Find ways to make the teams themselves more competitive -- starting with the coaches.

Jacobs on Tuesday acknowledged that the past year has been difficult for the entire athletic department in some very public ways. The football team won three games, the men's basketball team finished last and the baseball team likely will finish as a bottom-half team.

It wasn't a banner year by any stretch.

"The good news is that it's a new day at Auburn -- just as Coach Malzahn said the day he was hired," Jacobs said. "I was to be clear that regardless of how well we are performing across our other goals, I know how important winning is to our fans. We have much work to do, but I'm convinced that our best days are not behind us."

Gogue feels the same way about Jacobs.

In a four-paragraph statement released Monday afternoon, the university president indicated clearly that Jacobs will be retained into the 2013-14 athletic season. He said the athletic department operates effectively in many aspects, but detailed the need for improvements in overall department operations, external communication, the gameday experience.

"I'm confident (Jacobs) will move forward to put in place a plan to give the Auburn family what we all expect," Gogue said. "I look forward to Jay providing the leadership needed to make all the necessary improvements."

The task of turning suggestions into action is the department's next step, which already is being realized. JMI Sports has been hired to help implement changes based on how Auburn benchmarks against similar schools like North Carolina, Oregon and Michigan.

The consulting firm based in San Diego, Calif., will help Jacobs and other department leaders identify how other schools and business enterprises devised solutions for similar types of issues.



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