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Auburn AD Jay Jacobs stepping down amid series of scandals

Jacobs has run Auburn’s athletic department since 2004 and hired its last two football coaches.

Alabama v Auburn Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Auburn athletic director Jay Jacobs will retire by June 1, 2018, he wrote in a letter reported on by The Auburn Plainsman, the school’s student paper:

"Earlier this week, I informed President Leath that I will step down as Director of Athletics on June 1, 2018, or sooner if my successor is in place," Jacobs wrote in the letter. "I have come to this decision after a lot of prayer, deliberative discussions with my wife, Angie, and with the realization that it is time for a new leader of an incredible Department."

Jacobs' move, which will be effective June 1, 2018, comes after a succession of scandals hit Auburn Athletics over the course of the year, including allegations against two winning softball coaches accused of inappropriate sexual conduct and the arrest of an Auburn basketball legend turned coach accused of bribery and corruption.

If a successor is chosen earlier, Jacobs said he will step down then.

Auburn is one of several schools caught up in the FBI’s ongoing probe into corruption in college basketball. The Tigers’ men’s hoops program just announced the indefinite suspensions of two players. It sounds like both that basketball scandal and the softball scandal contributed to Jacobs’ departure. From the Plainsman:

There are lingering questions surrounding Jacobs' depth and breadth of knowledge of any misconduct and improprieties in the two major scandals. He and Auburn Athletics have denied any mishandling of the department, pointing to the softball coaches' resignations and federal prosecutors who have said University administrators weren't involved in nor subjects of the nationwide basketball investigation.

Since August, the University has retained a high-powered Birmingham law firm — Lightfoot, Franklin & White — to serve as an independent third party to investigate the softball program and the basketball program, costing the University thousands in legal fees. The two scandals added to a bill of $2.3 million since 2010.

Jacobs’ departure will affect Auburn’s football program, of course.

Gus Malzahn’s team hasn’t won more than eight games since 2013, when it went 12-2 and came within a whisker of beating Florida State in the BCS Championship. Malzahn has appeared regularly on hot-seat lists for the last few seasons. Jacobs is the athletic director who hired him, and his exit won’t lessen pressure on Malzahn.

Football’s a huge part of the job for any athletic director, and that’s especially true at Auburn. Whoever succeeds Jacobs will be responsible for either keeping Malzahn or finding a replacement for the coach who’s now 41-20 in five years at AU.

Jacobs had been Auburn’s AD since Dec. 2004. He joined up right as Tommy Tuberville was capping off an unbeaten football season. He later hired Gene Chizik to follow Tuberville, and Chizik won the national title in 2010. Jacobs fired Chizik in 2012 and hired Malzahn as his replacement.