Thursday, July 18, 2024

With new Tribe football coach in place, some search details remain unknown

Mike London, 58 (WYDaily/Courtesy Tribe Athletics)
Mike London, 58 (WYDaily/Courtesy Tribe Athletics)

Just two weeks after Tribe football coach Jimmye Laycock announced he planned to retire, the search was on for his replacement.

In an Aug. 22 letter, the athletic director wrote the search would be conducted quietly and out of the public eye to ensure the privacy of “exceptional” candidates.

The letter was true to its word: The entire search stayed behind closed doors until former Howard University coach Mike London was announced as the new coach Nov. 19.

Although London is now in place, many details of the search remain unclear, including how many finalists there were — if there were any besides London — as well as London’s first year salary.

Director of Athletics Samantha K. Huge said she led the process from start to finish, which involved “a lot of evaluating,” “a lot of research” and “a lot of due diligence.”

“We’re not going to get that caliber of candidate if we’d done the search in the public eye,” Huge said, adding she had the “full support” of the university’s human resources department.

Huge said the search “took the amount of time it needed” to find the best candidate. London was named the new coach about three-and-a-half months after Laycock announced his retirement.

All prospective coaches were required to officially apply for the position. Huge declined to say whether London applied for the position first, or if she reached out to him.

Huge also declined to release London’s starting salary, saying the university hasn’t finalized the “terms of the agreement” yet, but will release it once London’s contract is finalized.

She did not give a timeline for when the information would be released.

RELATED STORY: Tribe football taps Howard University’s Mike London as new coach

Process

While Huge led the coach search, she worked with a group of Tribe alumni to develop a profile for the new coach.

In the August letter, Huge announced an “advisory group” comprised of former Tribe football players and post-graduate professionals would assist in the search.

The group included Joe Montgomery ’74, Kevin Rogers ’74, Todd Stottlemyer ’85, Shawn Knight ’94, Kendrick Ashton ’98 and Mike Leach ’00.

Together, the group built a profile of the coach, which included an emphasis on student-athletics and academics, a track record of integrity, Stottlemyer said.

“This was her search,” Stottlemyer said. “It’s appropriate it’s her search because obviously this person reports to her.”

Samantha K. Huge speaks at her introductory press conference March 15, 2017 as President Reveley looks on. (WYDaily/Andrew Harris)
Samantha K. Huge speaks at her introductory press conference March 15, 2017 as President Reveley looks on. (WYDaily/Andrew Harris)

Huge said she searched in “every time zone and every conference,” but declined to say how many finalists she chose.

Huge also reached out to Sean McDermott from the Buffalo Bills for his opinion on London, Stottlemyer said.

Those interested in “sharing thoughts” on the search were also welcomed to send emails to the athletic department.

“We followed a process,” Huge said. “We stuck to the process and he was our selection.”

A pick

After Huge chose London for the position, he met with university President Katherine Rowe. Stottlemyer said Huge asked the advisory group for their opinion on London, which gave resounding support for the choice.

“He’s an exceptional human being,” Stottlemyer said. “It’s important to hire someone with high integrity.”

Then, London was publicly announced as the new coach Nov. 19.

Since London was publicly announced as coach, he has hired a few staff for the team, including his son Mike London Jr. as offensive assistant coach, Brennan Marion as offensive coordinator, EJ Barthel as offensive assistant coach and recruiting coordinator, Gordon Sammis as offensive line coach and Josh Zidenberg as defensive assistant coach and special teams coordinator.

Hiring coaching staff is handled entirely by London.

“This is an exciting day for William & Mary, and we are thrilled to welcome Mike and his family back to Williamsburg,” Huge said in a Nov. 19 news release. “Mike embodies the values and character that we need to lead our football program forward and he has demonstrated an ability to develop players and win championships over his nearly 30 years in coaching. His unique journey and commitment to the development of young men make him the perfect successor to carry on Coach Jimmye Laycock‘s 39-year legacy while forging a new path for Tribe Football.”

Sarah Fearing
Sarah Fearing
Sarah Fearing is the Assistant Editor at WYDaily. Sarah was born in the state of Maine, grew up along the coast, and attended college at the University of Maine at Orono. Sarah left Maine in October 2015 when she was offered a job at a newspaper in West Point, Va. Courts, crime, public safety and civil rights are among Sarah’s favorite topics to cover. She currently covers those topics in Williamsburg, James City County and York County. Sarah has been recognized by other news organizations, state agencies and civic groups for her coverage of a failing fire-rescue system, an aging agriculture industry and lack of oversight in horse rescue groups. In her free time, Sarah enjoys lazing around with her two cats, Salazar and Ruth, drinking copious amounts of coffee and driving places in her white truck.

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