"Gene [Chizik] confirmed for me today that he is accepting the head coaching position at Auburn," Pollard said. "I'm disappointed for our Iowa State fans and student-athletes that he has chosen to leave our program after only two seasons.
"I understand that it [Auburn] is a dream job for him, but the timing and the way it played out has been hurtful and disappointing. Although this is a significant set back, we will get through the challenge because the Iowa State University athletics program is far greater than one person."
Chizik will be formally introduced Monday as Auburn's football coach.
A former Auburn defensive coordinator, Chizik will succeed Tommy Tuberville, who resigned following 10 seasons. The hiring was first reported by several media outlets, including AuburnUndercover.com, the Birmingham News and the Mobile Press-Register.
"I'm extremely proud and excited to have Gene returning to Auburn to take over as head football coach of this program," Auburn athletic director Jay Jacobs said in a statement. "I know that we have found the right fit for Auburn. Gene's body of work during his 23 years in this profession is remarkable. He has a strong knowledge of this athletics program, this university and the community, and he knows how to be successful in the Southeastern Conference. He is a high-energy coach that is an outstanding motivator and demands a tough, physical style of football.
"I'm confident that Gene can build upon the foundation that has been established and make this a program that competes for championships on a consistent basis."
Chizik made $1.05 million in base salary and guaranteed pay last season under a six-year deal and will owe Iowa State $750,000 after taking the Auburn job.
Auburn was paying Tuberville an average of $3.3 million a year and agreed to give him $5.1 million to buy out his contract despite calling his departure a resignation. He stepped down after a 5-7 season and the Tigers' first loss to rival Alabama in seven years, a 36-0 rout that was the final blow for a team that was predicted to win the Southeastern Conference Western Division.
Chizik is 5-19 in two seasons at Iowa State after stints running the defenses at Auburn and Texas. He coached the nation's top scoring defense in 2004 in his third and final season with the Tigers. That defense allowed just 11 points a game, and Auburn went undefeated.
"Through my travels in coaching over the last 23 years, there's one place that I've always wanted to return to and that is Auburn," Chizik said in a statement. "The tradition of the Auburn football program combined with the passionate fans and their love for Auburn are second to none. My family and I are Auburn through and through, and look forward to being part of the Auburn family and community."
Before coming to Iowa State to replace Dan McCarney, Chizik was one of the hottest defensive coordinators in the country. He led teams at Auburn and Texas to a 29-game winning streak in more than two seasons before losing in 2006 to Ohio State while at Texas. He was the Frank Broyles national award winner in 2004 and served as the coordinator on Texas' 2005 national championship team.
But he's gone just 5-19 in two seasons at Iowa State -- including a 2-10 mark in 2008. The Cyclones went winless in Big 12 play this season, and their
win total has dipped in each of the past three seasons.
The team's defense regressed in every major statistical category this season. The Cyclones worsened from 65th to 111th nationally in total defense, 93rd to 110th in scoring defense, 44th to 95th in rushing defense and 91st to 115th in total defense.
Their struggles were particularly apparent in the Big 12, which has become one of the nation's highest-scoring conferences in the past several seasons. The Cyclones allowed at least 28 points and at least 422 yards of total offense in every conference game this season. Iowa State also allowed 28 points in 14 of 16 conference games under Chizik.
Iowa State currently has a 10-game losing streak, which ranks tied for the second-longest in FBS football with SMU. Washington has the longest at 14 games.
But the Iowa State program has traditionally struggled in the latter stages of the Big Eight and Big 12 conferences. The Cyclones had 17 non-winning seasons in a 19-year period before McCarney took them to five bowl games during a span of six season from 2000-05. McCarney was let go after a 4-8 record in 2006.
Iowa State has never notched an outright conference championship in the 117-season history of the program. The Cyclones shared Missouri Valley Championship titles as co-champions in 1911 and 1912.
Information from ESPN.com's Chris Low, Mark Schlabach, Tim Griffin and The Associated Press was used in this report.