In light of former Virginia Tech assistant James Johnson’s departure to ACC rival Clemson last week, Hokies Athletic Director Jim Weaver received approval from school President Charles Steger to raise the program’s salary pool for assistant coaches. But he is adamant that money isn’t the reason Johnson is leaving Blacksburg.
Starting next season, Coach Seth Greenberg’s assistants will make the exact same amount as Clemson’s staff. Weaver said the breakdown in salary would be $190,000 for Greenberg’s lead assistant, while his other two coaches would make $150,000 and $140,000.
Virginia Tech men’s basketball assistants made a combined $406,651 in base salary, according to the most recent public records. Clemson’s staff earned $474,750.
That moves Virginia Tech ahead of both Virginia and Georgia Tech in terms of assistant pay among ACC public schools. But despite the athletic department’s reaction to Johnson’s move, it appears there was more to Johnson’s decision than money.
Weaver said Monday he was able to match Clemson’s offer of $190,000, but Johnson came by Weaver’s office Friday to tell him that the new salary was not why he decided to move on. Weaver still met with Steger on Friday afternoon to secure the raises for Greenberg’s staff.
“I told Coach Greenberg Thursday afternoon, because he told me he was gonna meet with James Johnson again Thursday night, and I said, ‘Seth, if James Johnson wants to stay at Virginia Tech, I will go to the president to see if I can get the same salary package that he’s gonna make at Clemson,’ ” Weaver said. “And it came back that James Johnson was not gonna stay and he was gonna go to Clemson. Well, I still needed to find out and talk to the president so we can hire coaches in the future. So that’s why I went to the president.”
Johnson also told the Daily Press on Monday night that the move “had nothing to do with money,” contrary to what one person close to Johnson told The Post on Friday when news of his move to Clemson became public.
Johnson is the sixth assistant in four years to leave Greenberg’s staff, but his departure is the biggest blow to the program yet. He had been with Greenberg for five years and was the Hokies’ most consistent recruiter in recent seasons, helping secure commitments from players like Cadarian Raines, Robert Brown, C.J. Barksdale and incoming recruit Marshall Wood.
Earlier this month, Virginia Tech also lost first-year assistant coach Rob Ehsan and director of basketball operations Jeff Wulbrun when they were hired as assistant coaches under new UAB Coach Jared Haase. The only remaining assistant coach on Greenberg’s staff is John Richardson, who was hired before the 2010-11 season.
This will be the second time in three offseasons that Greenberg must replace two assistant coaches, but the latest turmoil is especially disconcerting. If money didn’t lure Greenberg’s longest-tenured assistant away from Virginia Tech, it raises new questions given the amount of turnover within the program in recent years.
“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,” Weaver said when asked if he was concerned.