A week after head coach Bob Huggins resigned, West Virginia selected Josh Eilert as interim basketball coach, athletic director Wren Baker announced Saturday. Eilert currently serves as an assistant coach.
Huggins, who abruptly resigned hours after a drunk driving arrest, was named the Mountaineers’ head coach in 2007. The promotion gives Eilert his first head coaching opportunity.
Baker said it made more sense for the basketball program to select an internal candidate given the difficulty of conducting a broad search over the summer.
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“I have spoken with basketball insiders across the country over the past week, including coaches, professional basketball executives and others I trust to identify a strong pool of candidates to speak to,” Baker said in a statement.
«In the end, what I came to recognize was that conducting this search at the end of June was difficult for many of our candidates, and also put our talented student-athletes at a real disadvantage. That said, we will conduct our national search at the conclusion of the 2023-24 season».
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According to NCAA rules, WVU players have 30 days to decide if they want to enter the transfer portal. Athletes who would have already entered the portal still have the option to return to Morgantown for the fall.
Eilert could be the glue that holds together an upper-class roster built largely through trades.
«Josh Eilert is the right person to lead our men’s basketball program next season,» Baker said. «He has been an important part of our success and has shown great integrity, work ethic and dedication. He has been involved in all facets of our program during his time on the basketball staff and has earned this opportunity to coach our team on an interim basis for the 2023-24 season».
Eilert, 43, first joined Huggins as a graduate assistant at Kansas State in 2006, then followed him to West Virginia in 2007. Eilert has had a variety of roles with the Mountaineers, including video coordinator and director of basketball operations, before being named an assistant coach in July 2022.
«I would like to thank Wren Baker, President Gee, Rob Alsop, Steve Uryasz and the rest of our administration for believing in me and giving me the opportunity to lead our famous Mountaineer basketball program,» Eilert said. «I would also like to thank Coach Huggins for keeping me on his staff at K-State in 2006 and for bringing me to West Virginia in 2007. I learned a lot from Coach Huggins and it was an honor to work for a Hall of Fame Coach for the past 17 years. years».
Among others who were linked to the opening were UAB coach and former Huggins assistant Andy Kennedy and former West Virginia and Michigan coach John Beilein.
Huggins was the head coach at his alma mater for 16 years. He previously served as an assistant coach at West Virginia in the late 1970s.
Huggins was charged with driving under the influence in Pittsburgh on June 16. According to a criminal complaint, Huggins initially believed he was in Columbus, Ohio. A breath test determined that Huggins’ blood alcohol content was more than twice the legal limit. He has a preliminary hearing scheduled for Aug. 3 in Pittsburgh.
Last month, Huggins agreed to a three game suspensiona $1 million salary reduction and sensitivity training to use the slur during an interview with Cincinnati radio station WLW.
Huggins did not object to drink driving in a Cincinnati suburb and was ordered to attend a three-day intervention program. The University of Cincinnati, where Huggins was serving as head coach at the time, suspended him indefinitely with pay and told Huggins to rehabilitate.
He was fired a year later amid a power struggle with the school president, as well as the fallout from the DUI arrest.
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Huggins was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame last September. In 41 seasons, his teams have gone to 25 NCAA Tournaments.
Associated Press contributed to this report.