- Andy Katz, ESPN Senior Writer
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Virginia Tech fired men's basketball coach Seth Greenberg on Monday, stunning the man who roamed the Hokies' sideline for the last nine years.
Athletic director Jim Weaver made the announcement at a hastily called 4 p.m. news conference Monday, only three hours after Greenberg told ESPN.com by phone that he had no idea what the media session was about. Greenberg, who noted he was currently hosting a recruit on campus, said he believed it had nothing to do with him since he hadn't heard from Virginia Tech officials and assumed that it had something to do with Weaver.
"People thought I was hanging up my cleats but that was not the intention at all," Weaver said of the purpose for Monday's news conference. "[Assistant athletic director Tom Gabbard and I] decided last week that we needed to go in another direction in our men's basketball program and we have terminated coach Seth Greenberg's tenure as our basketball coach."
Weaver said he and Gabbard made the decision to fire Greenberg last week, but did not inform Greenberg until 1:30 p.m. Monday.
"I was completely shocked and blindsided by the decision of Jim Weaver and the administration. These past nine years have been some of the most rewarding for me both personally and professionally," Greenberg told ESPN.com just after 6 p.m. Monday. " ... I appreciate the support from [Virginia Tech] president [Charles W.] Steger, the Hokie Nation, the student body, my coaching staff and all our players. Our program was built on family, trust and relationships. I leave the program in far greater shape than when I was hired nine years ago."
The buyout of Greenberg's contract was $1.2 million.
Weaver noted that he and Gabbard realized they would not be extending Greenberg's contract in 2013 and that the current vacancies on the coaching staff factored into the decision.
Assistant James Johnson took a similar job at Clemson and Weaver said that the Hokies were willing to match any offer that Clemson had made to Johnson.
"I didn't like the way it unfolded with coaches leaving an ACC program that has the promise on the court that [this] program has for next year," Weaver said. "If Coach Johnson wanted to stay in Blacksburg he would have gotten the same amount of money as he did at Clemson. Coach Johnson came to my office Friday morning and said it had nothing to do with money."
Last week, assistant Rob Ehsan also left to join the staff at Alabama-Birmingham, and was accompanied by director of basketball operations Jeff Wulbrun, who got an assistant's position at UAB, leaving only John Richardson and Greenberg on the Tech staff.
Within three hours of Tech's announcement about Greenberg, Old Dominion announced it had hired Richardson, who spent five years on Blaine Taylor's staff before going to Blacksburg.
"I can certainly understand some coaches leaving, but to have as many leave as we had sat the wrong way with me," Weaver said, adding that the decision "had nothing to do with losing. It had nothing to do with NCAA appearances. It had something to do with people leaving and it had something to do with me wanting to change the direction and leadership of the program."
That desire, he said, came to him as he stood before a workshop of 182 full-time staff members of the athletic department.
"The relationship of that program to the rest of the department is what hit me," Weaver said, noting that Greenberg did not attend the workshop. Weaver declined to elaborate, but said it was quite evident to him at the department workshop.
Greenberg told ESPN.com that he was recruiting in Arizona, Texas and Ohio during the workshop.
The search for a successor will begin Tuesday, Weaver said, adding that he has already heard from people in the profession about the job. He did not rule out hiring an assistant coach or a young head coach with little experience.
The Daily Press of Newport News, Va., reported that Weaver won't use a search firm.
Virginia Tech was a consistent bubble team during Greenberg's tenure but made just one NCAA tournament appearance under his direction. Greenberg's teams had been crushed by injuries over the past few seasons, and they finished 15-16 this past season, including 4-12 in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
Greenberg has a daughter who is a junior at Virginia Tech and another daughter who graduated from the school.
Greenberg came to Virginia Tech from South Florida and prior to that was the coach at Long Beach State.
Information from The Associated Press contributed to this report.