In surprising news, third-year head coach Bryce Drew was fired by Vanderbilt on Friday morning. The decision was made by athletic director Malcolm Turner, who just started at Vanderbilt on February 1st after spending the last four years as the president of the NBA’s G-League.
Drew was 40-59 in his three seasons, reaching the NCAA Tournament in his first year. Questions about his job security arose this season, as the Commodores slogged through an 0-18 SEC season. However, star recruit (and future lottery pick) Darius Garland went down early with an injury and promptly declared for the Draft, ending his collegiate career after just four games (Vandy was 4-0). Drew’s ability to land Garland – who headlined a Top 15 recruiting class – in the first place brought a ton of optimism to the program. Now, just three years after leaving alma mater Valpo for Vanderbilt, Drew finds himself out of a job.
While it’s not exactly rare to see colleges move on from coaches after such a short period of time, the situation with Drew and Vanderbilt is different. The injury issues can be blamed for some of the on-court trouble that the team went through, plus Drew has actually taken this team to the NCAA Tournament during his short tenure. Turner’s decision to make a move less than two months into his tenure seems like a bit of a knee-jerk reaction.
According to ESPN’s Jeff Borzello, the meeting on Friday in which Turner notified Drew of his decision was the first ever meeting between the AD and head coach. Borzello also reports that to avoid paying Drew’s buyout, Turner will try to re-assign the head coach into another position within the school.
Turner would hardly be the first AD to come into a job and quickly make changes, but the circumstances here are particular surprising. We had Drew on our Hot Seat Report after the 0-18 campaign, but that was because we felt he would start next season on the hot seat.
So where does Turner look for his next coach? It’s hard to say. Turner has an extensive sports business background and the aforementioned ties to the NBA. He’s a UNC and Harvard Law graduate in his first professional position in any capacity with a University. As names surface, we will pass along what we hear (follow us on Twitter @CoachesDatabase).
h/t to George Walker IV/The Tennessean for the photo