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External Factors Weighing on Charleston's Coaching Search

Can Charleston make the right coaching decision with external factors brewing on campus after Doug Wojcik's dismissal?

Jonathan Daniel

The coaching carousel never stops spinning and after slowing down for the summer it was cranked back up when Doug Wojcik was fired from Charleston for allegations of abusive behavior towards his players.  You would think the controversy is over Palmetto State but that couldn't be further from the truth.

With the search for a new head coach underway there are allegations of tremendous pressure for the Cougars to hire a minority candidate. Charleston president Glenn McConnell, who started this summer, has no shortage of controversy. In an article from Inside Higher Ed McConnell was labeled as as such:

His critics also paint him as a Confederate sympathizer. He used to own a shop that sold memorabilia of the South’s rebellion; he appears in a widely circulated picture dressed as a Confederate general; and he is a longtime supporter of flying the Confederate flag on the statehouse grounds.

The reaction to McConnell's hire wasn't positive. Students protested with signs like "This is 2014 NOT 1814" and the Charleston Post & Courier claimed that the decision to hire McConnell was against the search committee's best recommendation.

The College of Charleston's presidential search committee did not include Lt. Gov. Glenn McConnell on the list of five recommended candidates that it forwarded to the school's Board of Trustees, according to sources with close ties to committee members.

Charleston is a proud program and one full of tradition and passion. The Cougars are looking to reclaim the glory days of the John Kresse era where they made NCAA in 1994, 1997, 1998, and 1999. The community is trying to turn the corner from the stain that Doug Wojcik has left and become a CAA contender but now with the controversy surrounding President McConnell the Cougars can't not make a decision purely based on basketball. CBS Gary Parrish recently wrote "one unreported aspect of this story worth noting is how first-year president Glenn McConnell is facing internal and external pressure to hire a minority as his next men's basketball coach, multiple sources told".

So where do the Cougars go from here? The leader in the clubhouse seems to be Cougar alum, former NBA veteran, and current New Orleans Pelicans scout Anthony Johnson. Former Charleston interim head coach and assistant Mark Byington, who is currently the head coach at Georgia Southern, has already removed his name from consideration.  Other names that have popped up in the search is Charleston Southern's Barclay Radebaugh, Wofford's Mike Young, former UNC star and current Tulane assistant Shammond Williams, Clemson assistant Earl Grant, and former Boston College coach Al Skinner.

Johnson could be a fine coach from the Cougars.  He's a Charleston native, alum, and played professionally in the NBA and NBDL from 1997 to 2010.  Johnson has never really coached though and has to be least experienced bench boss out of the whole candidate pool.  Radebaugh has built a Charleston Southern program through key recruits like Saah Nimley and Arlon Harper. Mike Young has coached at in-state rival Wofford since 1989 and has lead the Terriers to the NCAA Tournament in three of the last five seasons. Finally, Earl Grant is a Charleston native who spent six years on Gregg Marshall's bench at Winthrop and Wichita State before coming to Clemson in 2010.

With so much experience in the search pool for the Cougars will they make the correct basketball decision that can make them relevant in the CAA or will external pressures potentially push them into a quick decision?