ATLANTA, GA - MARCH 08: Head coach Seth Greenberg of the Virginia Tech Hokies reacts during the first half against the Clemson Tigers during their first round game of 2012 ACC Men's Basketball Conferene Tournament at Philips Arena on March 8, 2012 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Let me preface this article by saying that this story is not about my opinion on whether or not Seth Greenberg should have been fired. Our editorial staff has done a brilliant job of expressing those opinions already.
What this story will cover is the inexcusable and blatantly disrespectful manner in which Seth Greenberg was removed as the Virginia Tech's men's basketball head coach. It is my strong opinion that whether or not you agree with the decision made by Jim Weaver to change the direction of the program, the methodology of that change was about as poorly executed as it could have possibly been.
My case after the jump...
On March 9th, Virginia Tech's season was over. In the second round of the ACC Tournament, the Hokies were beaten by the Duke Blue Devils for the third time that season. That loss marked the end of what can be simply put as a disappointing season. Tech's record sat at an underwhelming 16-17, while their ACC record was a dismal 4-12. This was not the season that the fans, the team, or Seth Greenberg had in mind.
Fast forward to April 2nd, almost a month later. News outlets began reporting that Virginia Tech assistants Rob Ehsan and Jeff Wulbrun (director of basketball operations) were leaving for UAB. For Ehsan, this move was parallel in terms of the coaching hierarchy while Wulbrun was able to move up the ranks to a full-fledged assistant coach.
This move by Ehsan and Wulbrun marked the fourth straight year that at least one of Greenberg's assistants had left to take positions at other programs.
Fast forward again, this time to April 13th - almost two weeks later. These same news outlets began running stories of another Virginia Tech assistant leaving. This time, James Johnson (or known around the team as simply J.J.) was leaving Blacksburg for another job within the ACC. In one swift move, Johnson became the third member of Greenberg's staff to leave within a three week period as he departed to take an assistant coaching job at Clemson - a job slated to give him, as Norm Wood put it, "a significant raise."
Fast forward for the last time to April 15th - two days later. Virginia Tech announced that they would be increasing the pay of new men's basketball assistant coaches in order to keep up with the salaries offered by other ACC programs at the request of former head coach Seth Greenberg.
On that, an interesting quote was pulled from Virginia Tech Athletic Director, Jim Weaver.
"We certainly like the continuity that we have throughout the great majority of our department, and certainly we’d like to see that same kind of continuity in men’s basketball."
Boom. There's the word - continuity. That word would spell the end of Seth Greenberg's tenure at Virginia Tech only eight days later.
It's easy to see why Greenberg made his fair share of enemies during his time at Virginia Tech. Greenberg has a brash, outspoken, and brutally honest personality; and it's easy to see why this New York attitude wouldn't necessarily mesh well with others in the heart of Southwest Virginia. It was this clash of personalities that led to the lack of continuity that Weaver so strongly wants within his basketball program.
On April 23rd, Jim Weaver and Tom Gabbard, the associate director of athletics for Virginia Tech, sat at a podium and announced the "termination" of Seth Greenberg's contract. Make no mistake either, the word "termination" was intentional. There was no "parting ways," and there was no "letting go." Instead, we saw Greenberg get terminated, and the rubble and debris that has been flying ever since could be pulled straight out of a Schwarzenegger film.
Here's where I begin to take issue with everything that has transpired so far. We've fast forwarded, now it's time to rewind for a second.
Rewind to the week of April 15th, this is when Jim Weaver and Tom Gabbard apparently made their decision that they were going to "terminate" Greenberg's contract. That means that over the course of those seven days, they had agreed that they were going to let Greenberg go.
This begs the question, why did Greenberg first hear about his potential firing from David Teel during the afternoon hours of April 23rd? Why was Greenberg having to take time away from showing a recruit around campus to answer questions from media members about whether or not he still had a job?
Just before noon on April 23rd, media members and outlets received word of a press conference that was to be held at 4 P.M. that day. At 1:30 P.M., Seth Greenberg received the news in a private meeting with Weaver and Gabbard that he was being "terminated."
While members of the media, and all of the Virginia Tech community for that matter, were left to speculate about what the press conference could be about, Greenberg had no knowledge about this press conference at all. The fact that the media and fans knew about the press conference before Seth Greenberg did is downright disrespectful to the man who pulled Virginia Tech basketball out of the gutter, washed it off, and gave it the clothes off his back.
Where was this notice ahead of time by Weaver or Gabbard? Sometime between April 15th and April 21st, Weaver and Gabbard made up their minds about what to do with Greenberg. Why was Seth not informed sooner about this decision? Why was he not given any chance to prepare for what was about to happen to him? I highly doubt it's because Weaver and Gabbard couldn't find the time between their busy schedules.
Why did Weaver and Gabbard wait until 8:20 A.M. on the morning of April 23rd to have Virginia Tech President Charles Steger sign-off on the decision? Why the haste in general? It's surely no wonder why Greenberg felt "blindsided" about the decision to let him go, because he only had two and a half hours to process the decision before it was made official to the world on HokieSports.com via a live stream.
The fact of the matter is this - Greenberg gave Weaver nine of his best years, and in return Weaver gave Greenberg two and a half of his worst hours. There's something seriously wrong with this scenario.
There are more questions that can be asked. Why did Weaver and company wait so long after the end of the season to make this decision? Why didn't Weaver and Gabbard seek out Steger's approval of the decision before the day of the decision itself? Why didn't Weaver and Gabbard make this decision immediately following the first two assistants leaving back in early April?
I don't know the answers to these questions, nor will I claim to. However, what I know is what I see, and what I have seen in this whole situation is an egregious hypocrisy by Weaver.
It is beyond me how Weaver can sit at a podium and preach continuity and family while simultaneously throwing Greenberg under the bus. The last time I checked, family members usually don't leave each other out to dry in the worst way possible - at least, not a good family, that is.
There was a clear lack of respect for Seth Greenberg in the hours leading up until 4 P.M. on April 23rd. Greenberg pulled Virginia Tech basketball out of complete darkness and showed them the light (the NCAA Tournament), albeit for a brief period in time. In the end, however, Greenberg was left in the dark until the last possible moment by Weaver. This is an unfitting end to what was a mostly successful tenure at Virginia Tech given the situation that Greenberg inherited upon his arrival in Blacksburg.
For Weaver, it's too late to do the right thing in this situation. That opportunity has long since passed. For his sake, I hope Weaver is able to pull in one of those "big name candidates" that he spoke so adamantly about in the press conference. If he can't, he will have set Virginia Tech basketball back while painting the program in the poorest of lights.
Was Seth Greenberg's firing handled correctly?
Yes (29 votes)
No (278 votes)
Not Sure (26 votes)
333 total votes