Seth Greenberg was fired as the men’s basketball coach at Virginia Tech on Monday, a decision athletic director Jim Weaver said he and basketball administrator Tom Gabbard arrived at last week as they assessed the state of the program.
The discussion came after a second assistant coach in two weeks, and sixth in four years, announced he was leaving Greenberg’s staff, this time to take an assistant’s job at ACC rival Clemson. Associate head coach James Johnson, a five-year member of Greenberg’s staff, was offered a salary matching the one he was to receive at Clemson, but still declined.
“Coach Johnson came to my office Friday morning and told me that it had nothing to do with money,” Weaver said.
Last week, Rob Ehsan left to become an assistant at Alabama-Birmingham, and was accompanied by director of basketball operations Jeff Wulbrun, who got an assistant’s position at UAB, leaving only John Richardson and Greenberg on the Tech staff.
Within three hours of Tech’s announcement about Greenberg, Old Dominion announced it had hired Richardson, who spent five years on Blaine Taylor’s staff before going to Blacksburg.
For Weaver, other factors such as his perception of the way Greenberg and his staff fit into the family atmosphere the AD tries to promote for all his coaching staffs, also weighed into the decision, as did a desire to avoid filling out a staff for a short term.
“Mr. Gabbard and I decided last week that one year from now, in 2013, we were not going to extend (Greenberg’s) contract at all, nor would we extend the contract the year after that, and because we have three vacancies now on our staff, it made all the sense in the world to us to move forward and change that direction of our program and hire a new staff that is going to be here,” he said.
Greenberg spent nine seasons in Blacksburg, guiding the Hokies to a 170-123 record. They were 16-17 last season, just 4-12 in the ACC, and missed postseason play for the first time in six years. Greenberg, who had four years left on his contract, led Virginia Tech to the NCAA tournament just once in nine seasons. They won a game in 2007 before losing.
The buyout of Greenberg’s contract was $1.2 million.
Weaver said the lack of coaching continuity was troubling, especially for a program in the prestigious ACC.
“I can certainly understand some coaches leaving, but to have as many leave as we had sat the wrong way with me,” he said, adding that the decision “had nothing to do with losing. It had nothing to do with NCAA appearances. It had something to do with people leaving and it had something to do with me wanting to change the direction and leadership of the program.”
That desire, he said, came to him as he stood before a workshop of 182 fulltime staff members of the athletic department.
“The relationship of that program to the rest of the department is what hit me,” Weaver said, noting that Greenberg did not attend the workshop. Weaver declined to elaborate, but said it was quite evident to him at the department workshop.
Greenberg was told of his dismissal at about 1:30, Weaver said, adding that he thought the coach was “shocked.”
Greenberg did not return telephone messages Monday, but said in a text to the AP at 1:27 that he had a recruit on campus.
The search for a successor will begin Tuesday, Weaver said, adding that he has already heard from people in the profession about the job. He did not rule out hiring an assistant coach or a young head coach with little experience.