CHARLESTON, W.Va. — In a television interview Thursday on WSAZ-TV, Gov. Jim Justice went into further details about two meetings regarding about Marshall University, including the idea to replace football coach Doc Holliday with former coach Bob Pruett.
According to a story originally broken by MetroNews, the first meeting was held Dec. 4 at the Greenbrier Resort with university president Jerome Gilbert to propose the coaching change. Gilbert said at the time Holliday’s job was safe and if that position opened, a nationwide search would be conducted.
The second meeting was March 28 — 11 days until the end of the regular legislative session — with Justice and five members of the university board of governors: Wyatt Scaggs, James Bailes, Christie Kinsey, Tim Dagostine and Oshel Craigo.
Pruett had a 94-23 record during eight seasons as head coach, winning the 1996 Division I-AA national championship. He left Marshall at the end of the 2004 season and retired from coaching in 2008 following a one-year stint as defensive coordinator at the University of Virginia.
Holliday has a 53-37 record over seven seasons and led the Thundering Herd to four bowl victories. Last season, the team went 3-9.
Justice, his wife Cathy and daughter Jill graduated from Marshall.
Justice told WSAZ-TV’s Amanda Barren the push was connected to personal concerns over Marshall’s progress.
“I am really concerned that Marshall is not progressing anything like (West Virginia University),” he said. “I don’t like that.”
Justice said Marshall sports performance and enrollment has regressed over the last decade.
“WVU exploded to the upside,” he said. “We need Marshall to be great.”
Nick Casey, Justice’s chief of staff, said Wednesday the meetings also included ways to increase enrollment and attract research funding.
Justice said he has no control over what decisions the university will make about improving the campus.
“I can express my opinion, but it’s not my decision,” he said.
Holliday said Thursday he found the reports “sad.”
The Marshall University Faculty Council passed a resolution Thursday asking the governor to refrain from getting involved in university operations.
The interview aired after Justice announced he was vetoing the $4.1 billion legislative budget.