Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

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March 14, 2014

Herrion reaches end of the line with Herd

BECKLEY — The average attendance for a Marshall men’s basketball this season was 4,713. Not nearly enough to save Tom Herrion’s job.

Neither was the 24 combined wins over the last two seasons.

After a 30-45-minute meeting that athletic director Mike Hamrick said was “cordial,” Herrion tendered his resignation as head basketball coach. It ended a four-year tenure that started out well but quickly deteriorated.

Herrion broke even at Marshall, going 67-67 in his four years. And he was just 24-41 over the last two seasons, a disappointing finish after the went to the postseason in each of Herrion’s first two years. That included the team’s first appearance in the National Invitation Tournament in 24 years in 2012.

He was a combined 43-26 in those first two seasons, leading to heightened expectations going into the 2012-13 campaign. But the Herd caved under the pressure and finished 13-19.

“After meeting with Mike earlier today, I have decided that it is in the best interest of all parties that I resign my position as head basketball coach at Marshall University,” Herrion wrote in a statement.

“I greatly appreciate the opportunity that was given to me and will cherish the last four years and the many great people I have met and the memorable moments we achieved. My family and I have enjoyed being a part of the Marshall and greater Huntington community. We wish the entire Thundering Herd Nation great success moving forward.”

Hamrick addressed the issue in a Friday afternoon press conference. He said the search for Herrion’s replacement will begin immediately, but stressed to the media that he will not address the situation until the new coach is introduced.

“We can win in basketball. We can be successful in basketball,” Hamrick said. “The Henderson Center can be a special place. ... We are looking for someone who can win and win right away. We are looking for somebody who wants to be here.

“We want somebody here who can reignite the fan base. ... I never miss a game here. I sit up in the stands and get a little lonely, my wife and me up there.

“Marshall has a great basketball tradition — a while ago. There is no reason we can’t have that same type of program again.”

Among the players on Herrion’s NIT team was guard DeAndre Kane, who was maligned the entire 2012-13 season and was eventually dismissed from the program. He landed at Iowa State, where he was named an All-Big 12 first-teamer earlier this week.

Several players from that same team wound up transferring, and the only returning starter Herrion had for 2013-14 was guard Elijah Pittman. But Pittman was already in trouble for an off-campus fight that resulted in him being indicted on a misdemeanor battery charge in August. He was ejected from a win over Arkansas State in November for a flagrant-2 foul after hitting a player in the throat with an elbow.

Pittman was dismissed after nine games and on Thursday signed with the Delaware 87ers of the NBA Developmental League.

Herrion had basically a whole new team this past season, one that ended Wednesday with a second-round loss to Old Dominion in the Conference USA Tournament. Marshall finished 11-22, including a 3-14 record away from Cam Henderson Center. The Herd never won more than two straight games this season.

Yet another star could be on his way out on the heels of Herrion’s resignation. Point guard Kareem Canty has not shied from his frustration all season, often taking to Twitter to vent. After a loss at UTEP in January, Canty tweeted: “I got a lot on my mind don’t think I’ll be returning next year.”

After word of Herrion’s departure got out, Canty put out the following tweets:

“Smh bad year bad news I loved playing for him not his fault we lost games.”

“But I can’t hold this in any longer I will not be returning back to Marshall next year! It’s been fun.”

Hamrick was asked about the effect the situation could have on players and did not seem worried.

“The kids are confused,” Hamrick said. “Some are happy, some are upset. Some are staying, some are leaving. Whenever you get a new coach hired and he meets with the kids, everything ends up fine.”

— E-mail: gfauber

and follow on Twitter @GaryFauber.

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