Updates from Monday, Mar. 24
Daniel Martin of CSN Baltimore had more on Buzz Williams' contract at Virginia Tech:
Seven-year deal for Buzz Williams at VT. Will make $2.3M in first year and salary will increase by $100K each season. (via @auntshel)— Daniel Martin (@DMartinCSN) March 24, 2014
Buzz Williams is reportedly set to leave Marquette to take over as the head basketball coach at Virginia Tech, according to Yahoo Sports columnist Dan Wetzel on Twitter:
Buzz Williams will leave Marquette to become the next coach at Virginia Tech, Y!Sports source.— Dan Wetzel (@DanWetzel) March 21, 2014
Marquette made things official with a statement:
Head Men’s Basketball Coach Buzz Williams has been an integral part of the Marquette community for the past seven years, including six as head coach, and we wish him and his family all the best as he takes on this new opportunity.
Coach Williams led the Marquette men’s basketball team to five-straight NCAA tournament appearances, including three-straight Sweet 16 appearances and an Elite Eight run last year. Coach Williams had a record of 139-65 during his six years at Marquette, including leading his team to a 2012-13 Big East Conference Championship.
His commitment to player development and the creation of Buzz’s Bunch, which provides children with medical needs positivity and support, were the hallmarks of his success off the court.
The university has already begun a search for a new head coach, and we are confident that we will attract top-tier talent. Marquette’s elite basketball program is built on a proud tradition of excellence and we look forward to continuing to build on that legacy.
Here's what Virginia Tech athletic director Whit Babcock had to say via the school's website:
“I am extremely excited about welcoming Buzz Williams to the Hokie Nation,” Babcock said. “Buzz is a proven winner who has earned his way up through the ranks with a strong track record of success. I am confident he will energize our fan base and help make Virginia Tech Basketball competitive in the Atlantic Coast Conference. I know he will recruit at the highest level.”
Williams added his thoughts as well:
“It’s never easy to leave a great school like Marquette, where I spent seven wonderful years, six as the head coach,” Williams said. “But this is a special situation to work at a place like Virginia Tech. I’ve heard tremendous things about this terrific institution and this is an outstanding opportunity to build a program. My family and I look forward to becoming a part of this great university and community, and taking on the challenges associated in succeeding in the ACC.”
The Hokies also noted that the "school will hold a formal press conference on Monday, March 24 at 6 p.m. (potential for slight change), on the arena floor of Cassell Coliseum. The event will be open to the general public and students and admission is free of charge."
ESPN.com's Jeff Goodman reports that Williams and the school have agreed to a seven-year deal. Goodman adds that several factors led to Williams' departure:
Buzz Williams left Marquette for a variety of reasons, sources told ESPN. One of the biggest was new league/new TV package.— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanESPN) March 21, 2014
CBS Sports columnist Gary Parrish explains what the move could mean for Marquette:
Sources have told @CBSSports that former UCLA coach Ben Howland is expected to be involved at Marquette.— Gary Parrish (@GaryParrishCBS) March 21, 2014
Virginia Tech and new athletic director Whit Babcock fired head coach James Johnson on Monday after the Hokies finished 9-22 and in last place in the Atlantic Coast Conference. Johnson went 22-41 over two seasons with Virginia Tech.
The 41-year-old Williams has spent the past six seasons at Marquette, leading the Golden Eagles to the NCAA tournament in each of his first five years. He led the Big East squad to the Sweet 16 in back-to-back years in 2011 and 2012 and reached the Elite Eight a year ago before losing to Syracuse.
Marquette finished 17-15 this past year, its worst under Williams. He leaves with 139 wins in 208 games.
As Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Paul Zeise points out, it appears that Virginia Tech has taken a positive step toward the future by signing an accomplished leader in Williams:
If you fire your coach, you need to upgrade or just keep the old guy in place. I'd say Virginia Tech did that reasonably well...— Paul Zeise (@PaulZeise) March 21, 2014
But in addition to hiring a brilliant basketball mind, Virginia Tech has brought on a tremendous person. Williams' kindness and selflessness have been well-documented over the years, but earlier this week, CBS Sports' Gregg Doyel reported on Williams' foundation, "Buzz's Bunch," which helps support children with medical needs.
Doyel published the following email he received from Loren and Pamela Farr of Eugene, Ore.:
After I read your story I sent Coach Buzz a note thanking him for his work. As parents with a son facing a potential deadly disease we have felt extremely alone and looking for a support network. The fact that Buzz was offering this kind of program through Marquette University truly impressed us...
Since that initial note Coach Williams has sent us three notes and two packages. Our son has written the coach and despite trying to regain his strength Russell is pushing himself to shoot baskets and wants to learn more about the game. All this has been some of the best medicine he has received and ranks up there in terms of help with what the medical specialists have provided.
Despite Williams' decorated past and high character, he'll have his work cut out for him in Blacksburg, Va., where the Hokies have been irrelevant for the past few years.
With topflight programs like Syracuse and Pittsburgh adding to the ACC's depth, Williams is sure to face early struggles as he attempts to rebuild the program and lead the Hokies to their first NCAA tournament appearance since 2007.
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