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WVU AD Wren Baker Admits Obstacle of Timing in Coaching Search



WVU AD Wren Baker

MORGANTOWN, W.Va – Conducting a national coach search in June is no easy task, and that’s something WVU director of athletics Wren Baker admitted while discussing promoting Josh Eilert to become the basketball program’s interim head coach for the 2023-2024 season.

“On Monday we were able to partner with a search firm and making calls to potential candidates. The results of those calls varied from absolute interest, to yes I’d be interested but timing makes this difficult or I’d be interested but I just couldn’t do it with the timing,” Baker said about the timing being an obstacle.

Baker confirmed that West Virginia was working on two parallel paths to replace Bob Huggins – one that would find them a long term head coach for years to come and one that would only offer a short term solution. WVU settled on a 10-month contact for Eilert and opening up the search again after next season.

To no surprise, Baker would not confirm any of the names who were rumored to be candidates or provide any information that was discussed in those conversations and interviews. He cited that he promised those individuals that their talks would be confidential when asked directly about any candidates, most notably former West Virginia head coach John Beilein.

Baker did mention having discussions with former Mountaineers Joe Mazzulla and Mike Gansey, both who currently hold prominent positions as leaders of NBA franchises.

Upon announcing Eilert as the interim head coach on Saturday night, Baker also explained the complications with the calendar during the search process.

“Last weekend, as we embarked on a national search for a new Head Men’s Basketball Coach, I had the opportunity to connect with our incredible current men’s basketball student-athletes, and many former letterwinners, alumni, donors and fans, all of whom truly love West Virginia University and want the very best for our athletic programs. A common refrain from all of them was for us to find an elite coach who fits our culture and who is ready to build upon our storied tradition,” he said.

“To that end, I spoke with knowledgeable basketball people around the country over the last week, including coaches, professional basketball executives and others of whom I trust to identify a strong group of candidates to speak with, some of whom I did. But ultimately what I came to recognize, was that conducting this search in late June was difficult for many of our candidates because of the timing and also put our talented student-athletes at a real disadvantage, unsure of what the future held for them.”

Baker is open to the idea of hiring a senior advisor to assist Eilert. WVU will conduct another search at the conclusion of the season in 2024, a search that may include considering Eilert on a more permeant basis.

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