Tuesday, October 3, 2023

Sure W&M hired a new head basketball coach, but questions remain about how secretive the search was conducted

Samantha Huge, athletic director and W&M President Katherine Rowe present Dane Fischer, the new men's head basketball coach, with a Tribe jersey. (Julia Marsigliano/ WYDaily)
Samantha Huge, athletic director and W&M President Katherine Rowe present Dane Fischer, the new men’s head basketball coach, with a Tribe jersey. (Julia Marsigliano/ WYDaily)

The College of William & Mary announced its new men’s head basketball coach on Tuesday, just three weeks after Tony Shaver was fired.

But questions about how he was hired and the overall hiring process remains unclear, and officials continue to decline to elaborate.

At a news conference Wednesday morning, Dane Fischer, the new head basketball coach, was introduced by W&M President Katherine Rowe and Tribe Athletic Director Samantha Huge to media outlets, the Tribe basketball team and at least a dozen fans.

“Dane is a competitor,” Huge said, adding it was clear during the hiring process that Fischer wanted to win and understands what it takes to act as a educator, mentor and leader.

Both Fischer and Huge had never met before the hiring process and it is unclear how Fischer’s name ended up as a candidate for the coveted job of head coach.

Fischer is the only person she offered the job to, Huge said.

When asked who contacted who during the process, Fischer deferred questions to Huge.

In response to whether he planned on contacting Shaver, Fischer said the former head coach would always be a part of the program and while he respects Shaver’s privacy at this time, his door is always open.

In an interview following the news conference, Huge said she would not release Fischer’s salary at this time — she said the contract is still being finalized.

“I’m not going to get into it,” she said in response to whether she or Fischer reached out about the head coach’s job first.

Huge did say the advisory board, comprised of five basketball alumni, also brought her names and together on conference calls they vetted candidates and interviewed them off site.

“Every candidate went through the advisory committee,” she said.

However, Huge did not know the exact amount of candidates they interviewed.

“Oh gosh, I would be making up a number if I told you,” she said. “But it’s north of 25.”

When asked why W&M did not post the job on the state employment website or the college’s job board, Huge said the department did get a waiver for the job search because they didn’t want to put candidates in a position where if they didn’t get the job they would have to go back to their team.

“Protecting their anonymity was critically important to the process and also to be able to give our student athletes to not have to be thinking about it constantly with what was in the media,” Huge said.

However, WYDaily did not ask about the candidates who applied for the position but rather how they applied or were recruited.

Paul Rowley ’17, one of the members of the advisory board and Tribe basketball player, said he has not talked with “coach” (Shaver) but said he plans on staying with the team.

“That decision to let him go was made, but my loyalty to William & Mary is bigger than coach,” he said.

Some present in the stands at Kaplan Arena were fans of Shaver. But even they were surprised by the new head coach.

“I’m impressed,” said Joe Catanzaro. “It’s a hard job and she [Huge] did it.”

His friends, John Hilkert and Pete Kallison agreed.

“I think he’s a good fit,” Hilkert said, adding Fischer’s experience coaching schools have a very similar academic program to W&M.

“I think he’s quiet but carries a big stick,” Kallison said.

Julia Marsigliano
Julia Marsiglianohttp://wydaily.com
Julia Marsigliano is a multimedia reporter for WYDaily. She covers everything on the Peninsula from local government and law enforcement agencies to family-run businesses and weather updates. Before WYDaily, she covered Hampton and Newport News for WYDaily’s sister publication, HNNDaily before both publications merged in December 2018. Julia was born in Tokyo, Japan and moved to Long Island, New York in 2001. A true New Yorker, she loves pizza, bagels and good Chinese food. Send comments, tips and other tidbits to julia@localvoicemedia.com. You can follow her on Twitter at @jmarsigliano

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