2014 Coaching Carousel

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Two coaches interviewed for the College of Charleston head coaching position this weekend

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It appeared last week that the College of Charleston was ready close the book on a difficult summer. It took more than a month — and a second investigation — to remove Doug Wojcik from his head coaching duties. On Aug. 26, three weeks after Wojcik’s firing, the search committee reportedly gave College of Charleston president Glenn McConnell two finalists.

The next day, Wofford head coach Mike Young and former CofC guard Anthony Johnson both removed their names from consideration. Young and Johnson became the top options out of the six candidates in contention. This weekend, Clemson assistant coach Earl Grant and N.C. State associate head coach Bobby Lutz — both previously had interviewed — were back on campus for a second time, according to Jimmy Utter of the News & Observer.

Lutz, 56, is set to begin his fourth season on coach Mark Gottfried’s staff at N.C. State and his third year as associate head coach. The Wolfpack advanced to its third straight NCAA tournament and ended the season with a 22-14 record.

Sources said the College of Charleston has also spoke to Clemson assistant Earl Grant about the position. The school expects to make a decision by the middle of next week, sources said.

Lutz coached Charlotte from 1998-2010, leading the 49ers to five NCAA tournament appearances. Grant has been on the Clemson coaching staff for the past four seasons. Before joining the Tigers coaching staff, he was an assistant under Gregg Marshall at Winthrop and Wichita State. According to Jeff Goodman of ESPN, Grant has the support of former CofC head coach John Kresse.

UConn assistant Karl Hobbs and Virginia associate head coach Ritchie McKay — both of whom have head coaching experience — were also interviewed before the search committee keyed in on Johnson and Young. McKay reportedly withdrew from consideration on Sunday.

The college basketball season begins in 33 days.

College of Charleston coaching search takes another turn

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With there being reports that the College of Charleston had two finalists for its head coaching vacancy picked out, alum and former great Anthony Johnson and current Wofford head coach Mike Young, the conclusion of the search seemed to be approaching. Pick one of the two, negotiate a contract and then announce a press conference. That simple, right? Apparently not.

According to Andrew Miller of the Charleston Post and Courier both Johnson and Young have removed their names from consideration, meaning that the school and its search committee have to go back to the drawing board. Wednesday afternoon there was a report that Johnson was the choice, but in a statement Johnson mentioned family reasons as to why he won’t be taking over at his alma mater.

With Johnson, who interviewed for the position in 2012 before the school hired the since-fired Doug Wojcik, and a successful coach in Young no longer considering the position the question now is who can the College of Charleston call. And even more importantly, what quality option can the school call who will be willing to take the job?

Also having interviewed for the opening are four coaches who are currently assistants at high-major programs: Earl Grant (Clemson), Bobby Lutz (NC State), Karl Hobbs (UConn) and Ritchie McKay (Virginia). Of the four three have Division I head coaching experience, with Hobbs leading George Washington to three NCAA tournament appearances (2005, 2006 and 2007) and Lutz having led Charlotte to five NCAA tournament appearances (1999, 2001, 2002, 2004 and 2005).

McKay, who also spent time at Colorado State, Portland State, Oregon State and Liberty, led New Mexico to the NCAA tournament in 2005.

Does Charleston give any of those four a call? It would make sense to do so given the fact that they’ve all been interviewed, but with the search having reached this point what are the chances any would be willing to take the job? With classes now in session (the first day was August 19) the clock is ticking on the administration to end the search.

Yet given how things have gone to this point, it’s anyone’s guess as to how long it will take the College of Charleston to do so.

Report: a former NBA veteran is considered the frontrunner for College of Charleston job

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After several investigations, the College of Charleston fired head coach Doug Wojcik, who had been accused of verbally and physically abusing players during his two years at the school.

According to a report on Thursday from Andrew Miller of the Post and Courier, an eight-person search committee is looking to have a candidate to present to College of Charleston president Glenn F. McConnell by Aug. 19, the day classes are set to begin. It is believed that Anthony Johnson, who a member of the CofC Athletics Hall of Fame, is the frontrunner.

From the Post and Courier:

“There’s a lot of support for Anthony and a lot of people who want to see Anthony get the job,” the source said. “There’s no question that he’s a very strong candidate, but the committee does not want to rush to a decision. They want it to be a thorough process so they can get the right person in place.”

Johnson set the school record for assists with 520 while leading the Cougars to an appearance in the 1997 NCAA Tournament. He went onto become an NBA journeyman, playing for seven different teams in his 13-year career.

Miller also mentioned four other candidates for the position. Among them are Wofford head coach Mike Young, Clemson assistant Earl Grant, Tulane assistant Shammond Williams and former Boston College head coach and current Bryant associate head coach Al Skinner.

Wojcik was initially investigated for verbal abuse in early July. After five weeks, a detailed 50-page report of the allegations and a second investigation, Wojcik was fired for just cause on August 5. In two seasons, he was 38-29.

At the start of the month, assistant Antonio Reynolds Dean was named acting head coach.

Elizabeth City State’s Shawn Walker to be Grambling State’s next head coach

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The last couple of seasons have been incredibly difficult for anyone associated with the Grambling State basketball program. With academic issues that led to a postseason ban in 2013 and an on-court product that produced just five wins over the last two season, it was clear that a lot needed to be fixed in order for the SWAC program to move forward. Interim president Cynthia Warrick has found the man who will lead the Grambling State basketball program.

Shawn Walker, who for the last 12 years served as head coach at Division II Elizabeth City State, will be hired at Grambling State. During his time at ECSU Walker compiled a record of 196-172, which included a season as head coach of the women’s program. Under Walker the Vikings made three appearances in the CIAA title game, winning the league tournament in 2007.

“Our department and university family wishes Coach Walker the very best as he transitions to Division I Basketball,” ECSU AD J. Lin Dawson said in a release. “We appreciated his commitment to ECSU and the legacy he built. He is a solid individual who understands that the platform of Athletics provides a tremendous avenue to impact the community, and in particularly, the youth.

“Shawn will be a major asset to Grambling. He brings a successful coaching résumé, vision, stability, and a strong work ethic that is contagious.”

Grambling State has yet to announce the move despite Elizabeth City State announcing Walker’s resignation, but according to the News-Star an email was sent to members of the program by Warrick informing them of the move. Joseph Price, who was placed in charge of the program to turn things around, may not have been successful from a win/loss standpoint but his moves helped the Tigers get out of the academic rut they were in.

And among the additions to the program was guard Antwan Scott, who posted averages of 15.7 points, 4.5 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game last season. Making sure Scott stays around for his senior season will be one of Walker’s most important early tasks.

Mississippi Valley State officially names Andre Payne head coach

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Entering the first open period of July just one head coaching position remained open at the Division I level: Mississippi Valley State. With the Delta Devils having fired Chico Potts back in March, the news that was first reported back in May became official on Friday afternoon as Andre Payne was introduced as the new head coach.

Payne arrives in Itta Bena with both head coaching and administrative experience, as he spent the last eight seasons as the head coach and associate athletic director at Wiley College in Texas. Payne left the NAIA school with a record of 146-104, with Wiley finishing the 2013-14 season with a 25-7 record.

“My plan is simple: recruit student-athletes who want to be here. Recruit student-athletes who want to call this place home, that’s what I plan to do,” Payne said in the release. “We want guys who are committed to their education. We want guys who are committed to being superb athletes. And we want guys who are committed to having a great social life on campus, too.”

Since Sean Woods left Mississippi Valley State to take the head coaching job at Morehead State in 2012, the Delta Devils have struggled to build on their trip to the NCAA tournament in Woods’ final season at the helm. Under Potts, MVSU won a total of 14 games, finishing the 2013-14 season with a 9-23 overall record (5-13 SWAC).

Mississippi Valley State returns two of its top four scorers from last season in guards Jeffrey Simmons (10.6 ppg) and DeAngelo Priar (10.5), and they’re adding four newcomers to the program. Those newcomers will be asked to help account for the departures of leading scorer Anthony McDonald (11.9 ppg) and leading rebounder James Currington (10.4 ppg, 6.8 rpg).

Grambling State head coach Joseph Price relieved of duties

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Considering the fact that the program has put together a record of five wins and 52 losses over the last two years, including an 0-28 mark in 2012-13, it would be an understatement to say that these have been tough times for the Grambling State basketball program. Add in the issues the program faced academically when head coach Joseph Price was hired, resulting in their being ineligible for postseason play last year, and it’s clear that a lot needed to change.

Tuesday it was reported by Sean Isabella of The News-Star that recently hired interim school president Cynthia Warrick has begun making changes, with Price and athletic director Aaron James being relieved of their respective duties as part of the shakeup.

“My primary focus as interim president is to move Grambling State University to a competitive position of excellence at every level,” Warrick said in the statement. “I have started the process of making several strategic changes in my administrative team, which is a customary practice in transitions such as this. The significant challenges facing Grambling make these decisions even more important, and I am committed to assembling the best talent possible in order to move the University forward.”

The question now is what’s next for the Grambling State basketball program, especially with the first of three July evaluation periods a week away (July 9-13). With regards to next season’s roster guards Terry Rose, Antwan Scott and A’Torri Shine, the team’s top three scorers in 2013-14, were all due to return in 2014-15.

Grambling State finished the 2013-14 season with a 5-24 record (3-15 SWAC), and they also knocked off Jackson State in the first round of the conference tournament. The 2013-14 academic year at Grambling State also included the football team forfeiting a game due to a player protest of various issues within the program.