Update on West Virginia Head Coach Search

MORGANTOWN, West Virginia — Interim head coach Josh Eliert will almost certainly coach his last game for the Mountaineers when West Virginia (9-22, 4-14) plays the Cincinnati Bearcats (18-13, 7-11) in the Big 12 Conference Championships at 3:00PM tomorrow in Kansas City.

According to our source close to the situation, Wren Baker and West Virginia University will likely act swiftly in moving on from Eilert as the team’s interim head coach with an announcement expected shortly after the team is eliminated. West Virginia lost to Cincinnati 92-56 this past weekend, so it’s very possible that the Mountaineers could officially start the process of finding its next head coach in the next couple of days.

With that said, several of West Virginia’s top candidates will be coaching their current team(s) during the NCAA Tournament, so it’s unlikely that anything official will happen until after March Madness is over.

However, Wren Baker has had 10 months to prepare for this hiring and he absolutely has a list of outstanding candidates ready. The name that still reportedly remains at the top of his list is James Madison’s Mark Byington. Byington, who has led his team to the Sun Belt Championship, is rumored to be one of the head coaches that Baker has zeroed in on with many speculating that the deal is already done.

Our source, however, has said that there has been some push back from donors at West Virginia about a potential Byington hire, which could make the process more challenging. Several donors are reportedly pushing other names and although Baker almost certainly has an idea who he wants to hire, he must listen to the donors and make them feel heard.

Some of the names that donors are currently pushing for the job include: Dusty May (FAU), Pat Kelsey (College of Charleston), Niko Medved (Colorado State), Shaheen Holloway (Seton Hall), Dustin Kerns (Applachian State), and Darian DeVries (Drake).

I am still confident that Byington will be the hire, but obviously this is a very, very fluid situation and anything can change over the next week or two, particularly if one of the available candidates makes a big run during the NCAA Tournament and becomes an even more desirable hire.

All of the potential hires are outstanding coaches and candidates for the position, and Wren Baker has shown to be an athletic director who can be trusted with making such important hires. Remember, Baker hired Mark Kellogg as his new women’s basketball head coach this last year, and Kellogg has led the Lady Mountaineers to an incredible 24-7 record in his first season with the team. With that said, West Virginia fans should be confident that Wren Baker will make the right hire for the program to get the program back on track next year and for many years to come.