W&M athletic director: Shaver's firing due to 'concerns off and on court'

Staff writer

This story has been updated as of June 25 at 3:15 p.m.

It was a firing two years in the making when longtime College of William and Mary men’s basketball coach Tony Shaver was shown the door after 16 seasons.

William and Mary’s Athletic Director Samantha Huge told a crowd of more than 120 community members and staff at a town hall meeting Tuesday night she fired Shaver “due to concerns off and on the court.”

Huge said she conducted her own internal review of the men’s basketball program when she first came on two years ago and didn’t like how the program was “trending.”

When she fired Shaver on March 13, it wasn’t because of any malicious or inappropriate behavior by Shaver, staff or players, Huge said. Instead, it was a decision made for the long-term success of the program.

In April, when Huge hired Dane Fischer, the lead assistant men’s basketball coach for George Mason University, to replace Shaver, the entire men’s basketball team was at his side, the Daily Press reported at the time. But five team members had already entered into the NCAA transfer portal and the team’s star, Nathan Knight ,mulled a chance to get drafted into the NBA.

The team’s season ended on March 10 after a loss in the Colonial Athletic Association quarterfinals, according to a Tribe Athletics news release.

When several audience members at the town hall asked Huge specifically why Shaver was fired, she declined to elaborate.

According to Huge, on One Tribe One Day, the college’s largest fundraising day, the athletics department saw donors give $17,000 less after Shaver’s departure than the year prior.

After the town hall was over, Huge told a group of reporters she’d make the decision again because she thinks Fischer can take the team to the NCAA finals and win.

On Tuesday, Huge clarified that comment by saying the team “should win in the NCAA tournament. I don’t think there’s a single athlete who sets out to say we’re not going to go for the highest goal we can.”

Shaver’s firing was the third major departure of a head coach from a William and Mary sports team in the last year. Head football coach Jimmye Laycock announced his retirement in August 2018 after nearly four decades at the helm. He was replaced by a former assistant coach Mike London. The college’s head swimming coach, Matt Crispino, announced in May he would leave William and Mary after 12 years to take over the swim team at Princeton University.

While Shaver was coach of the men’s basketball program, it saw an overall losing record: 226 wins to 268 losses, according to the release. Shaver saw the team to four CAA Tournament finals during his tenure.

This story has been updated as of June 25 at 3:15 p.m. to include a clarification of where Samantha Huge said she thought the men’s basketball team could win the NCAA finals. Additionally, Huge clarified on Tuesday that she thinks the team should win in the NCAA tournament.

Roberts can be reached at 757-604-1329, by email at srobertsjr@vagazette.com and on Twitter @SPRobertsJr.

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