Charlotte head coach Alan Major will be taking an indefinite leave of absence from the basketball program, the school announced on Tuesday afternoon.
Ryan Odom will act as the interim coach in his place.
“This is an extremely difficult basketball decision for me to make, but more importantly, it’s a life and health decision,” Major said in a statement released by the university today. That release did not identify what is currently ailing Major. “It will be difficult being away from the team but I’ll maintain contact with the guys on a regular basis. I have the best staff in the country and those guys are fully-prepared to take our team into battle. I look forward to attacking this recovery process and getting back to leading this program into the future.”
This isn’t the first time that health problems have forced Major to step away from the job. During the summer, he was forced to take leave due to health issues that required heart and eye surgeries.
There is no timetable for his return.
Charlotte is 6-7 on the season.
After finishing the 2013-14 season with a 17-14 record (7-9 Conference USA), Charlotte enters the 2014-15 season with hopes of improving on those marks. Head coach Alan Major welcomes back an experienced backcourt led by senior Pierria Henry, and Florida transfer Braxton Ogbueze will help from a depth standpoint after sitting out last year due to NCAA transfer rules.
One player whose role may have changed as a result of the number of guards capable of earning playing time was junior guard Shawn Lester, who averaged 11.9 points and 4.2 rebounds per game last season despite making just one start. However Lester won’t factor into the 49ers’ plans, as it was announced Thursday that he’s decided to leave the program in order to pursue professional opportunities.
“Although we are saddened that Shawn will not be with us, we are fully supporting him and his family as he makes this transition,” Major said in the school release. “We thank him for his efforts, and he will be a Niner for life.”
In addition to Henry, who led the team in points, assists and steals in 2013-14, Charlotte returns Terrence Williams (10.5 ppg, 4.9 rpg) and Ivan Benkovic will return to the floor after sitting out all of last season with a back injury. Freshmen Torin Dorn Jr. and Keyshawn Woods will also look to compete for playing time.
Holding onto Lester would have given Charlotte an experienced option off the bench who’s proven that he can provide some extra scoring. But they do have the depth needed to account for his departure, even with the timing of the move being a bit peculiar.
With Pierria Henry and Terrence Williams both being seniors, adding another body (or more) to the backcourt is something Charlotte head coach Alan Major and his staff needed to do on the recruiting trail. Sunday evening the Conference USA program did just that, receiving a verbal commitment from 6-foot-3 combo guard Bryce Brown.
Brown made the decision after taking an unofficial visit to Charlotte this weekend. In a story written by Justin Young of Hoopseen.com, Brown mentioned academics and Charlotte’s style of play as reasons for his decision to commit.
“Their style fits me. They get out and run the floor, shoot the transition three. Their players can dribble, pass and shoot and they like that in their program,” Brown said. “That’s what brought me to Charlotte. Coach Major is a great guy and I look forward to playing for him.”
Also of note in the story is the fact that Brown was on the receiving end of increased attention from college coaches in recent weeks, with his ability to shoot the basketball being one reason why. As a junior at Columbia HS in Decatur, Georgia Brown averaged 18.0 points and 5.0 assists per game and helped lead the team to a 28-5 record. Brown will finish his high school career at Tucker HS in Tucker, Georgia.
As noted above Charlotte has to account for the eventual loss of two seniors, with Henry and Williams combining to average nearly 23 points and ten rebounds per game in 2013-14. Among the guards who will have eligibility remaining when Brown arrives on campus are Florida transfer Braxton Ogbueze, junior Shawn Lester (11.9 ppg last season) and freshmen Torin Dorn and Keyshawn Woods.
Charlotte head coach Alan Major has returned to the team following his medical leave of absence, according to a release from the school.
The fifth-year head coach of Charlotte took his leave of absence in mid-May. Major underwent surgery on one of his eyes in June, had a procedure done on his heart in July and surgery on his other eye in August.
“I’m very thankful to God to be back with the team,” Major said in the release. “I want to thank my family, our players and coaches, Athletic Director Judy Rose, Chancellor Phil Dubois and the UNC Charlotte administration. I would also like to thank a great team of doctors: Steve Eyler, Joseph Krug and Robert McSwain. Finally, thanks to Niner Nation for their support and prayers. We are excited to begin another journey.”
The 46-year-old Major is 61-63 in four seasons at Charlotte as the 49ers enter their second season back in Conference USA following eight years in the Atlantic 10.
Nearly two months after completing his fourth season as the head coach at Charlotte, it was announced by the school Friday that Alan Major would be taking a medical leave of absence effective immediately. While no specific medical issues were discussed in the release, Major noted his family’s medical history as a reason why he’s taking time away from the program.
“After discussing my health with my family and our Athletic Director Judy Rose,” Major said in the release. “I have decided to take a medical leave of absence. My family has a history of heart and eye issues, and I plan to have procedures done over the next couple of months to address them.
“I want to thank Judy and her staff, my coaching staff and our players for their support and love during this process. I’m looking forward to getting back to the game. I am very blessed to be at such an incredible University.”
In the release Rose noted that Major “put his health on hold for the entire [2013-14] season,” and it’s clear that both he and the school feel the need to have these issues addressed as soon as possible. The school did not announce who would be taking over in Major’s absence.
Charlotte finished the 2013-14 season with a 17-14 overall record, going 7-9 in Conference USA play. The 49ers were playing their first season in Conference USA since 2004-05, moving back to the conference after spending eight years in the Atlantic 10.
During the past two seasons, Charlotte’s coach Alan Major has significantly cut down the amount of three-point attempts his squad takes. The team’s three-point rate ranked among the lowest in DI in 2013 and 2014, and though the 49ers don’t take many long-range shots, they did make quite a few this season — Charlotte made 36 percent of their shots. According to a report from Jon Rothstein, though, Charlotte will lose one of their top shooters to transfer: sophomore Denzel Ingram will transfer from the Conference USA program and have two years of eligibility remaining.
Ingram used more than 50 percent of the team’s minutes as a freshman, and while his usage rate remained essentially stagnant as a soph, he spent his offseason refining his three-point shot. Ingram increased his percentage to 44.1 percent, making nearly twenty more threes in his second year, and emerged as one of the team’s best scoring threats from the perimeter.
The 49ers should still be a threat in conference play in 2104-14; other than Ingram and departing senior Ben Cherry, Major shouldn’t lose any other players. The trio of Willie Clayton, Shawn Lester, and Pierria Henry should be able to offensively carry the team, but Ingram’s loss deprives Major of a complimentary scoring threat.