Analysis: West Virginia University parts ways with interim Josh Eilert

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The Josh Eilert experiment has officially ended.

It was announced by West Virginia University Vice President and Athletic Director Wren Baker on Wednesday morning that the school was parting ways with Eilert, who served as men's basketball Interim Head Coach for the 2023-24 season after Bob Huggins resigned from the post in controversy.

“As I shared last summer following our initial coaching transition, we decided to wait until the conclusion of the 2023-24 season before embarking on a full national search," said Baker. "Upon our return to Morgantown from the Big 12 Men's Basketball Championship, I met with Coach Eilert, the coaching staff and the team to let them know we are moving forward with our search plans.”

Eilert navigated tough waters in his year at the helm of the WVU program. His roster was first decimated by transfers who left the program following Huggins’ departure. And then through a combination of eligibility issues and injuries, his squad was depleted even further once the season arrived. Even once he had a full team together, it was tough to get them to gel in a cohesive manner.

In many ways, it didn't make sense to give Eilert the job in the first place. He had never held a head coaching gig before. In other ways, it seemed like the only way to hold together those on the roster that did stay, and was an opportunity for a man who has spent nearly two decades helping build WVU basketball as an analyst underneath Huggins.

In the end, it is important to remember that Eilert faced a monumental challenge, and one that he was tossed into without much warning or preparation. And he was able to serve as a leader and a figurehead for a program that could have sunk even lower than they did. That is something Baker reminded fans of in his statement

“All of Mountaineer Nation owes a debt of gratitude to Coach Eilert for his leadership during a challenging season, as he and his staff faced all obstacles with class and professionalism,” Baker said.

That being said, it's also tough to look back at Eilert’s short tenure with fondness. The team finished the season with a 9-23 overall record, marking the most losses in a single-season in program history

However, the WVU job has the history, culture, and resources needed to be a top-tier program in the Big 12, and will likely be viewed as a desirable landing job. Baker should also be trusted in his ability to select a talented coach. He brought in current WVU women's head coach Mark Kellogg this off-season, who set a program record for most wins in a debut season and is set for an NCAA Tournament trip.

 "We are now focused on our collective future, and I am excited about what comes next. We compete in the best men's basketball conference in America, we have incredible fans and supporters, we have a history of success and we have a commitment to winning,” Baker said. “I am confident we will engage a strong pool of candidates and identify the right leader for our program. As I shared with our student-athletes, we will move deliberately but as swiftly as we can in the days ahead."