From last Friday’s late night miracle against Florida State to Sunday’s shocking NCAA tournament snub to Beth Dunkenberger’s resignation as women’s basketball coach on Monday, it’s been a noteworthy few days here at Virginia Tech and the events span the spectrum of emotions.
I spoke with athletic director Jim Weaver about all this in the past two days, and I figured with it being a slow news day Tuesday, I’d share what he had to say.
Like most Hokies fans (and beat writers), he is genuinely surprised that Virginia Tech is not preparing for the NCAA tournament. And while he understands Coach Seth Greenberg’s sentiment that this latest rejection by the NCAA tournament selection committee was “agenda driven,” he does not believe there is any sort of bias against Virginia Tech. That doesn’t mean he agrees with NCAA tournament selection committee chairman Gene Smith’s somewhat vague reasoning about the Hokies lack of non-conference wins.
“It’s disappointing, especially for our players, not making the NCAA tournament this year, but I thought the commentators on ESPN … they expressed it better than I can and I think they told the world that it was just not right,” Weaver said.
Weaver said he will speak with the ACC about what transpired on Selection Sunday, but “I don’t know if there’s anything to do, to be honest with you. It’s just very disheartening.”
On Monday, ACC commissioner John Swofford released a statement decrying the selection committee’s decision regarding Virginia Tech.
“I’m surprised that Virginia Tech was excluded from the NCAA Tournament,” Swofford said. “I believe they are a quality team that earned and deserved to be in the field of 68. After the season they had, I’m disappointed that the players don’t have the opportunity to compete in this year’s NCAAs.”
Maryland Coach Gary Williams echoed those sentiments on his weekly radio show Monday night, saying both Virginia Tech and Boston College should be have been included in this year’s NCAA tournament.
“They both deserve it,” said Williams, whose team was swept by both. “They won their way in, and they’d be really good representatives in the tournament. If the ACC has four, there’s no way the Big Ten should have seven.
“We have to figure out as a league how to get more teams in the tournament. There been a lot of lobbying that goes on that wasn’t there before. As a league, you have to do that, too, to keep up with the Joneses. We have to go after it a lot harder in the ACC than we did 10 years ago.”
As for the head coach opening with the women’s basketball program, Weaver said he and associate athletic director Sharon McCloskey will lead the search. Though Dunkenberger’s hiring ultimately didn’t work out, Weaver said the ideal candidate will share a trait with the former coach — they’ll “want to be at Virginia Tech.”
Weaver reiterated that he “wanted it to work out,” with Dunkenberger because of her ties to the school — she’s from nearby Shawsville, Va., earned a master’s degree at Virginia Tech and served as a Hokies assistant for nine years at the start of her coaching career. He said there is no timetable for hiring a new coach.
“You can’t have timetables because some people are still playing in tournaments, whether it’s the NCAA tournament or the WNIT, and so you just have to work the process and when it happens, it happens,” Weaver said. “Whether it’s five days, 10 days, 15 days, 20 days, you just don’t know. Every process is different.”