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Pearl eager to get to work
Auburn's new basketball coach Bruce Pearl, former coach of Tennessee, waives to fans after exiting the plane at the Auburn Regional Airport in Auburn, Ala., on Tuesday, March 18, 2014. Auburn announced the hiring on Tuesday of the NCAA college basketball coach. (AP Photo/Opelika-Auburn News, Albert Cesare)
AUBURN, Ala. (AP) — For the first time since 2011, Bruce Pearl is back to work at 100 percent.
Pearl's three-year NCAA show cause penalty expired at midnight Sunday, which allows the Auburn head coach to fully recruit for his new program.
"I've got calls to make now," Pearl said Sunday afternoon. "But it's just good to be normal again."
Dozens of Auburn students and fans lined up at Auburn Arena late Saturday night to welcome Pearl.
"I think that speaks to Auburn," Pearl said. "It wasn't just a fan thing. It looked like they knew me, they knew my situation, and they wanted to show their support. That doesn't happen everywhere — it happens at Auburn."
Pearl said the first call he received after the penalty expired was from former Auburn basketball great Charles Barkley.
He described Sunday as "an incredibly productive day" of work on Auburn's campus.
The Tigers got a commitment Sunday morning from four-star forward Horace Spencer, who is the nation's No. 31 prospect, according to 247Sports.com. Spencer reportedly was the first recruit to meet with Pearl after midnight.
Pearl's staff opened the weekend by receiving the commitment of four-star small forward Danjel Purifoy, the state of Alabama's top recruit.
Spencer and Purifoy give Auburn, which has posted five straight losing seasons, the nation's No. 9 recruiting class, according to 247Sports.com.
Pearl was fired at Tennessee and placed under the penalty in 2011 for lying to NCAA investigators about a cookout he held for recruits.
Even with the two highly rated commitments this weekend, Pearl said his focus the next few weeks is on making up for lost time with recruits.
"We're going to go really hard for the next three weeks in the framework of what we can do with those hours," Pearl said. "I think last week was a really hard first week for the guys. I'm sure some of them went, 'Whoa.'"