West Virginia Basketball Head Coach Hotboard, 1.0

MORGANTOWN, West Virginia — Following Bob Huggins’ arrest and forced resignation over the summer, the West Virginia basketball program was left in pieces, and Josh Eilert did his best to hold it together under incredibly tough circumstances. However, at 8-17 overall and 3-9 in the Big 12 Conference, and with the Mountaineers unlikely to be favored to win another single game on its schedule, it’s clear that director of athletics Wren Baker will almost certainly look to find the team’s next head coach following the season.

With that said, there are several coaches with outstanding resumes that Baker has prioritized as his top picks to take over the program. Per a source close to the program, Baker has already started his search for the next head coach. Here is who Baker has identified as potential candidates to take over the Mountaineers following this season:


1A – Mark Byington, Head Coach, James Madison

Why Mark Byington? Wren Baker is a basketball guy and he reportedly believes that Mark Byington is just the right guy. Byington, 47, has a 205-135 (.604 winning percentage) during his 12 seasons as a head coach at the College of Charleston (2011-2012), Georgia Southern (2013-2020) and James Madison (2020-current). This season, the Dukes are 18-2 overall and 6-2 in the Sun Belt Conference, and had an impressive win on the road at then #4 ranked Michigan State on the first game of the season for both teams.

Byington, a Salem, Virginia native, was named the CAA Coach of the Year in 2021 and according to a source, Baker and Byington already have a “handshake deal” in place. Although not the sexiest pick, the search firm that West Virginia University will use for the coaching search also works with Byington and is very, very high on him.

Why not Mark Byington? The fanbase will view Byington as “another Neal Brown hire” since he is a Sun Belt coach and has no Power 5 Conference experience.

1B – Dusty May, Head Coach, Florida Atlantic University

Why Dusty May? May, 47, is perhaps the hottest young coach in college basketball. If the Byington deal falls through, Baker will put the full-court press to land May. Last seaosn, May led Florida Atlantic to a 35-4 record and a trip to the NCAA Final Four. Florida Atlantic is 20-6 overall and 10-3 in conference play this season, and May, the reigning Conference USA Coach of the Year, is 121-66 (.647 winning percentage).

Why Not Dusty May? There aren’t a lot of negatives with May, but it’s possible that he wouldn’t stay in Morgantown permanently if a better job opened up, particularly if his alma mater Indiana Hoosiers came knocking.

1C – Greg McDermott, Head Coach, Creighton 

Why Greg McDermott? McDermott has had major success throughout his career and has coached in the Big 12 (Iowa State) before. McDermott, 57, has a career 597-352 (.629) record and has led Creighton to NCAA appearances 8 out of the last 11 years, including an Elite 8 appearance last year.

Why not Greg McDermott? During his time in the Big 12 at Iowa State from 2006-2010, McDermott was only 59-68 overall and 18-46 in conference play.

1D – Niko Medved, Head Coach, Colorado State

Why Niko Medved? Medved, 50, has done a tremendous job of winning at smaller schools and has connections to West Virginia through his wife, whose father is a major donor and season-ticket holder. At Colorado State, Medved has a 110-70 record and was the Southern Conference Coach of the Year in 2017.

Why not Niko Medved? No Power 5 coaching experience, underwhelming results, not seen as a sexy hire.

1E – Andy Enfield, Head Coach, USC 

Why Andy Enfield? Enfield, 54, has coached as an assistant in the NBA and has been at USC for the last 11 seasons. He has been successful during his time with the Trojans with a 212-139 overall record. Enfield was born in Shippensburg, Pennsylvania and reportedly wants to retire closer to home.

Why not Andy Enfield? USC is 10-16 this season and there’s a very good chance that he could end up on the hot seat before the season ends.

2A – Pat Kelsey, Head Coach, College of Charleston

Why Pat Kelsey? Kelsey is a high-energy guy who would be a terrific head coach at West Virginia. Kelsey, 48, has a 253-121 career record and led the College of Charleston to a 31-4 record last season. Kelsey is my personal pick for the job.

Why not Pat Kelsey? No Power 5 Conference experience.

2B – Darris Nichols, Head Coach, Radford

Why Darris Nichols? Nichols, 37, is a former West Virginia point guard and has climbed the coaching ranks since graduating from West Virginia University. He’s a young, hungry head coach who has done well at Radford (42-38).

Why not Darris Nichols? Nichols was arrested for DUI last year after having a blood alcohol level of 0.25, triple the legal limit. After Huggins’ arrest and forced resignation, it’s unfortunately very unlikely that Baker and Gee would take the risk of hiring someone with this history.

2C – John Beilein, Former Head Coach 

Why John Beilein? Beilein nearly had the job over the summer, but the two sides couldn’t agree on the terms of a deal. Beilein is one of the most respected coaches and brightest minds in college basketball history, and he would immediately turn the program around.

Why not John Beilein? He’s 71 years old and hasn’t coached for a couple of years. If Wren Baker wants to bring in his own guy, hiring Beilein would look like a re-tread from the past.

2D – Anthony Grant, Head Coach, Dayton

Why Anthony Grant? Another high-energy head coach who would undoubtedly do well at West Virginia. At Dayton, he’s 141-67 and was the AP National Coach of the Year in 2020.

Why not Anthony Grant? A Miami native, he would likely jump at the Hurricanes’ position if it became available. He’s 59 years old and hasn’t taken a team to the NCAA Tournament since the 2011-2012 season.

Swing For the Fences (unlikely to happen) 

Joe Mazzulla, Head Coach, Boston Celtics 

Why Joe Mazzulla? This is very unlikely, but Wren Baker has to at least make the phone call to Mazzulla. A highly-respected head coach in the NBA, Mazzulla, 35, has one of the best jobs in all of basketball. Last season, he led the Celtics to a 57-25 record and an Eastern Conference Finals appearance. Boston is currently in first place with a 43-12 record, but the Celtics have massive expectations and Mazzulla could be fired if they don’t win championships. If that happens, Mazzulla would certainly consider coming home to coach the Mountaineers.

Why Not Joe Mazzulla? There are no reasons not to hire him. If Joe Mazzulla is willing to coach at West Virginia, Wren Baker better pay him whatever he wants.

Not Happening (but will be mentioned)

Bob Huggins, Former Head Coach, West Virginia

Why Bob Huggins? He’s one of the winngest head coaches in college basketball history. He’s a Hall of Famer and he’s still beloved in the state of West Virginai.

Why Not Bob Huggins? He not only embarrassed himself with his DUI and derogatory remarks on a Cincinnati radio station, he’s also not handled himself well after his forced resignation. West Virginia President Gordon Gee has said that Bob Huggins will not be re-hired and Wren Baker is far too intelligent to ever get mixed up with Huggins again. It’s not happening.

Josh Eilert, Current Interim Head Coach, West Virginia 

Why Josh Eilert? He’s done everything possible to keep the program together and has handled a really tough situation with a lot of class. In my opinion, he deserves another year.

Why Not Josh Eilert? Wren Baker said prior to the season that he would hold a national search for the next head coach after this basketball season, and although he didn’t come out and say it, Eilert would have needed a miracle season to have a chance to become the permanent head coach. Unfortunately, that hasn’t happened.