Auburn basketball willing to pay for hot name; Tubby Smith enters coaching buzz

AUBURN — Auburn, which has spent $90 million on a basketball arena that will open next season, is prepared to make another sizable investment in the sport when it hires its new basketball coach.

People familiar with the search process say the university is willing to significantly increase what it has paid former coaches in order to attract someone with a proven record to replace Jeff Lebo, who was fired last Friday. A list of candidates includes coaches who could command high salaries, such as Minnesota’s Tubby Smith, who has SEC experience at Kentucky and Georgia.