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On Monday at noon, Virginia Tech announced athletic director Jim Weaver was holding a news conference at 4 p.m. about an unspecified subject.
Only after 90 minutes of rampant internet speculation about whether Seth Greenberg's job was in jeopardy did Weaver bother to call the longtime basketball coach into his office to inform him he was being let go.
Weaver defended the decision not to give Greenberg advance notice because the 1:30 p.m. meeting "worked into the schedules of everybody," but it's hard not to wonder if there wasn't a less tacky way the firing could have been handled.
Greenberg deserved to be the first to know he no longer had a job after eight years at the school, especially since Weaver said he decided he needed to make a change sometime last week. The university's almost gleeful link to the live stream of the press conference on the front of its athletics site in giant bold orange lettering was also in poor taste considering most firings are hardly acknowledged on a school's official site.
[ Related: Virginia Tech fires basketball coach Seth Greenberg ]
Virginia Tech fired Greenberg more than six weeks after the conclusion of a disappointing 15-16 year, the fifth straight season in which the Hokies failed to make the NCAA tournament. Greenberg led Virginia Tech to 19 or more wins the previous four years, but the Hokies inevitably fell a win or two shy of making the field.
What was especially unusual about Greenberg's firing was the late-April timing of it. Virginia Tech will begin a coaching search after nearly 40 other programs have hired other coaches, taking lots of viable candidates off the market.
Weaver explained the odd timing by saying he became more certain he would not offer Greenberg a contract extension following the departure of assistant coaches James Johnson (Clemson) and Rob Ehsan (UAB) this month. It can be argued that Virginia Tech's unwillingness to pay a competitive salary played a role in their exits, but Weaver said Johnson told him his move to Clemson was not financially motivated.
Weaver emphasized he saw a family atmosphere in other segments of the Virginia Tech athletic department that did not exist in Greenberg's program but chose not to elaborate because he did not want "to throw Coach Greenberg under the bus."
"I want to change the leadership such that the person at the top of the program has the same kind of family environment our other programs have," Weaver said. "It became crystal clear to me last week we didn't have that."
The firing apparently came as such a shock to Greenberg that he was hosting a recruit on Monday when the news conference was announced. Asked by the Washington Post what the presser was about, Greenberg even joked, "I'm still employed, so I don't think it's about me."
That the press conference turned out to be about him isn't the problem. That he didn't know about in advance, however, isn't fair to a man who did not deserve to be publicly embarrassed that way.
(The top of this post has been updated to reflect that the link to the live streaming news conference did not go up on Virginia Tech's website until 2 p.m. EST)
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