Josh Eilert new interim head coach of WVU men’s basketball



MORGANTOWN — Obviously feeling it imperative to move quickly to keep the roster Bob Huggins put together before being fired last week, West Virginia University Saturday evening named assistant Josh Eilert, a man who has never been a head coach, as interim coach.

Athletic director Wren Baker clearly indicated this was a one-year hire, forced on him because the pool of candidates was thin due to the timing and WVU’s players needed an answer on who would coach the team before making their own decisions whether to stay or leave through the transfer portal

“I spoke with knowledgeable basketball people around the country over the last week, including coaches, professional basketball executives and others of whom I trust to identify a strong group of candidates to speak with,” Baker said. “Ultimately what I came to recognize was that conducting this search in late June was difficult for many of our candidates and also it put our talented student-athletes at a real disadvantage. With that said, we will conduct our national search at the conclusion of the 2023-24 season.”

This keeps the coaching chair in the Bob Huggins coaching family as Eilert has been on staff the last 16 years, although only this year after Erik Martin left was he made a full-time bench assistant.

Baker consulted with the players throughout the process, in which he interviewed Eilert and current assistant Ron Everhart, who has a long resume that includes a couple of head coaching assignments at Duquesne and Massachusetts. Jarod Calhoun, the former Fairmont State coach and a Huggins assistant now at Youngstown, also was interviewed.

There was much speculation that former WVU coach John Beilein, now in the front office of the Detroit Pistons of the NBA, could have the job if he wanted it but he expressed, that at 70, “that ship has sailed.”

There were a couple of other mid-major names mentioned but it was clear that if Baker wanted someone with Power 5 experience, the dance card was empty as all he would be interested in were employed and would have big buyouts and were being asked to come into a difficult situation.

Replacing Huggins will be a major endeavor as despite is recent radio embarrassed that led to a three-game suspension, a $1 million salary cut to be sent to LBGTQ support organizations, Huggins has remained a near cult figure to the fan base of WVU for not only his coaching but also for all the charitable work he’s for the state and the fund raising he has done for the school and the hospital.

Huggins had put together a team via holdovers and the transfer portal that was expected to challenge for the Big 12 championship this year but already three players — Tre Mitchell, Kerr Kriisa and Joe Toussaint — have entered the portal. All could still return.

The players indicated in conversations with Baker that they wanted Eilert to get the job and Baker obviously felt it would be less of a distraction and do more to keep the team together than any other move he could make.

“Josh Eilert is the right person to lead our men’s basketball program next season,” Baker added. “He has been an important part of our success, and he has displayed great integrity, work ethic and dedication. He has been involved in all facets of our program during his time on the basketball staff, and he has earned this opportunity to coach our team on an interim basis for the 2023-24 season.

“Our athletics department will provide Josh, his staff and our student-athletes with a great support system and will do everything we can to ensure a successful season. Change is never easy and always presents challenges, but I am confident that this is the correct decision at this time. Moving forward and continuing our preparation for the upcoming season is the top priority now for our program.”

Eilert came to WVU in 2007 from Kansas State, his alma mater.

“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 storied Mountaineer basketball program,” Eilert said in the release put out by the school. “I would also like to thank Coach Huggins for retaining me on his staff at K-State in 2006 and for bringing me to West Virginia in 2007. I’ve learned so much from Coach Huggins, and it was an honor to work for a Hall of Fame coach for the last 17 years.

“I’m excited about this opportunity to lead the wonderful group of guys that we have in our locker room. They have been working extremely hard on the court, in the weight room and in the classroom since they returned to campus on June 5. In the coming days and weeks, I will be solidifying our roster and getting our team ready to head to Italy later this summer.”

During his career, Eilert has handled a wide variety of duties, including directing WVU’s wing and post players, on- and off-campus recruiting, on-court scouting, opponent scouting, film preparation, scheduling, coordinated the day-to-day internal operations of the basketball program, travel arrangements, camps, film exchange, fundraising and other special projects. This past season, Eilert moved into a coaching role as an assistant coach after serving as an interim assistant coach during the 2016-17 season.

Eilert played two seasons of basketball at Kansas State from 2002-04 after transferring from Cloud County Community College, where he was a two-year letterman and one-year starter.

He was named to the Academic All-Big 12 Team as a senior and four times was selected to the Big 12 Commissioner’s Honor Roll. Eilert was honored at K-State with the Keith Amerson Academic Award in 2004. While at Cloud County, he earned KJCAA Academic All-America honors as a sophomore.

A native of Osborne, Kansas, Eilert earned his bachelor’s degree in marketing from Kansas State in 2004. He earned his master’s degree in College Student Personnel/Intercollegiate Athletics from Kansas State in 2007.

Eilert and his wife, Brandi, have two sons, Brendan and Tristan, and a daughter, Emri.

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