UPDATE: W.Va. Gov. Justice addresses reports of ousting Marshall coach; Doc Holliday responds
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Following Thursday evening's practice, Marshall head football coach Doc Holliday addressed news reports that Gov. Jim Justice had shown interest in Marshall replacing Holliday with former Herd coach Bob Pruett.
"I'm sad," Coach Holliday told the media when asked about the reports. "I get sad to be honest with you. It's a sad day for everybody. That being said, I'm only concerned about this football team. My job is to get this football team -- be around these kids and get them better and become a better football team, and that's the only thing I'm worried about."
West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice says that Marshall University is falling behind and on WSAZ he addressed reports that he is trying to oust Marshall leaders.
Our media partner, WV MetroNews, first reported Wednesday night that Justice held a meeting with the Board of Governors on March 28 and specifically showed interest in reinstating 73-year-old Bob Pruett.
Pruett is a former Thundering Herd coach and longtime friend of Governor Justice.
Justice addressed reports that he has requested current coach Doc Holliday be replaced by Pruett and that President Jerome Gilbert and athletic director Mike Hamrick be cut.
"I'm friends with Doc, I'm friends with Mike Hamrick and everything, I'm you know, I'm friends with Jerry Gilbert," Justice said on WSAZ's First Look at Four. "I think Marshall ... I am really concerned that Marshall is not progressing anything like WVU."
Governor Justice says in the meeting, he told the board that his alma mater, Marshall, needs to up it's game.
Justice told WSAZ that Marshall is falling behind in athletics, research, fundraising, self-promotion and enrollment.
Justice's chief of staff, Nick Casey, told WSAZ that Justice drew several contrasts to WVU during the meeting.
Casey says Justice did compare WVU President, E. Gordon Gee, to Marshall President Jerome Gilbert. Casey says Justice described Gee as a superstar and said that Gilbert is not playing at that same level.
Justice referenced the Herd's "glory days."
"I loved the days when we had excitement and we had ... and Bobby Pruett was there at that time," Justice told WSAZ. "Listen, it's all a matter of the leader of the band, Doc, I love Doc don't get me wrong ... I think the world of Doc Holliday but it's just this simple ... we can measure certain things. If we look at our total sports program at Marshall in the last 10 years, we've lost more games than we've won."
Board chairman Wyatt Scaggs, James Bailes, Christie Kinsey, Tim Dagostine and Oshel Craigo attended the March meeting.
While they did not discuss specifics, Scaggs says that the board backs President Gilbert 100 percent.
Gilbert also met with Justice in December.
"The details of their conversation are private," university spokeswoman Ginny Painter said in a statement. "But we were encouraged by his interest in higher education and his support of Marshall University. We have a common purpose, and that is the success and growth of Marshall University."
Justice says that decisions about the university are not up to him and instead are on the shoulders of the Board of Governors.