RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Will Wade will return to the river city to take over as the new Rams basketball head coach.
Wade, 32, was former head coach Shaka Smart’s first hire. He spent four years with the Rams as an assistant coach until he was hired by the University of Tennessee Chattanooga, where he’s worked as the Moccasins head coach for two years.
With the announcement of his hire, Wade becomes the 11th head coach in VCU men’s basketball program history.
Coach Wade will be formally introduced at a press conference on Wednesday at 11 a.m. at the Siegel Center. The press conference is open to the public and VCU basketball fans are encouraged to attend.
Smart left on a jet with Texas Athletic Director Steve Patterson on Friday. The terms of his deal with Texas were not immediately available.
“Leaving VCU was not an easy decision for me and my family,” Smart said in a written statement. “I will be eternally grateful to the players at VCU with whom I shared such special experiences. They have taught me so much and changed my life.”
In a press conference on Friday, VCU Athletic Director Ed McLaughlin said that the search would be swift to find someone special to fill Smart’s shoes.
“Style of play is important for our student athletes,” McLaughlin said, noting also that VCU owns a trademark on the Havoc style for which VCU and Shaka Smart are famous. “I really think our program has elevated to a nationally elite level program. We want someone who’s going to be really good at VCU and move it forward from what Coach [Smart] did.”
McLaughlin said prior VCU coaching experiences wouldn’t be a requirement, but he did hint toward it being a plus.
“I think we’ve certainly had some people who worked here in the past who have been successful and understand what VCU is,” McLaughlin said. “It’s a very special place, and I think you need someone who understands what we our in our community.”
Shaka Smart’s departure comes after National Signing Day, when high school players can sign their National Letters of Intent. The letters legally bind players and universities. If a player wants to leave due to the departure of a coach, he must sit out a year under NCAA rules unless the school with which he has signed releases him from his obligation.
McLaughlin said no current players had mentioned to him that they wanted to transfer. He was asked if he would release any recruits from their NLOIs.
“Obviously we want people who want to be here, and I think all of our recruits want to be here. We’ll address that if it comes once we have a new coach, and we’re not going to do anything until that happens,” McLaughlin said.
This is the first time McGlaughlin has hired a VCU basketball coach.
8Sports Director Mitch Carr will have more tonight on 8News at 5 and 6. Stay tuned in for the latest.