W&M’s Tony Shaver Has Been Let Go: WMSB Hot Take

Tony Shaver had a great run at W&M, but his time as head honcho has officially come to a close. [photo via Bob Keroack, tribeathletics.com]
It’s official — W&M basketball’s Head Coach will not be retained. William & Mary issued an official press release today around 3:45 PM announcing the news. The piece’s main points are as follows:

“‘We are forever grateful to Tony for his commitment and service over 16 years to William & Mary,’ Huge said.  ‘He is a teacher not just a coach and his impact on hundreds of young men will be felt by them for years to come.  However, we have high expectations for our men’s basketball program, including participating in the NCAA Tournament, and we will not shy away from setting the bar high.  Now is the time to begin a new chapter in William & Mary basketball.  On behalf of Tribe Athletics, I want to extend my sincere gratitude and appreciation to Tony and we wish him all the best.’
During Shaver’s tenure, the Tribe made four appearances in the CAA Tournament final (most recently in 2015) as well as made two of the program’s three trips to the National Invitation Tournament (2010, 2015).  Over his 16 seasons, Shaver compiled an overall record of 226-268 (.457) and 124-162 (.434) in conference.”

Shaver will go down as the winningest coach in W&M history, having compiled 226 wins with the Tribe. Toward the end of his tenure, he certainly figured out how to recruit high-caliber athletes to William & Mary — not least among them: Marcus ThorntonNathan Knight, David CohnDaniel Dixon, and countless others. 

He came painstakingly close to W&M’s first-ever NCAA Tournament berth, having brought the Tribe to the CAA Tournament four times over the course of his W&M career. For one reason or another, the ball never bounced the Green and Gold’s way in those games, as the Tribe is still looking to go dancin’ for the first time.

Always known as an offensive coach, Coach Shaver’s teams were known for ball movement, pick and rolls, and smart cuts to the basket. One glaring weakness to his teams, however, has been its defense — with an historically poor defensive performance two seasons ago, despite that same team posting historic, nationally-ranked offensive numbers.

With that being said, this certainly is not an ideal time to fire the team’s Head Coach — though there obviously is never a great time to fire one. As we published yesterday, this coming year’s W&M team is poised for an historic run; it will return all five starters (including 3 seniors), and a Preseason Player of the Year candidate in Nathan Knight.

Firing the team’s Head Coach, especially knowing the potential of the team next season, might not be the best move for consistency’s sake. We hope this change doesn’t ultimately spoil the Tribe’s hopes next season — as the new coach will certainly have to install his new system, meet all the players — and heck, even learn how to get to Kaplan Arena.

It’s a gamble, for sure, and one we hope that the administration can pull off. It takes a special kind of person to be a Head Coach at William & Mary, as we know. The coach must be able to recruit high-caliber student athletes that excel both on the court and in the classroom, without exception.

The national search is on, and we’ll be keeping our ears to the ground in the weeks to come.

THANK YOU Tony Shaver for everything you have done for this school and this program. We’ll remember you fondly, and wish you success in future endeavors.



9 thoughts on “W&M’s Tony Shaver Has Been Let Go: WMSB Hot Take

  1. Jeff Copher on firing Ruffin McNeill at ECU.

    “After deliberate evaluation, the decision has been made to move our football program in a different direction with new leadership.” athletic director Jeff Compher said in the release. “We are appreciative of the hard work, dedication and contributions Coach McNeill and his staff have made to both East Carolina University and our community.”

    How did that work out

  2. A couple quick counterpoints. One: Consistency isn’t necessarily good. We have consistently failed to make the NCAA tournament under the status quo. Two: These supposed challenges facing the new coach are really insignificant. Adjusting to a new system won’t be difficult for smart, tough athletes.

    I think a fresh start and a change of culture will be very good for the program, so I’m glad to see Samantha Huge leading the charge. We need hard-nosed leaders who get results, not the attitudes that we’re particularly special suggested by the author.

    I mean come on… Is it really that hard to get to Kaplan? It’s the only turn off Monticello between the School of Ed and Ironbound Rd.

  3. There is only one thing Huge is going to get out of this, she’s the one who got Tribe into thE NCAA tournament with this coaching change. With Coach Shavers players and new recruits coming in and coming back their chance of accomplishing this is very high. SD Huge please give credit where credit is due and that is with Coach Shaver and especially not you.

  4. If you think this team is going to stay together; i.e. Pearce, Knight, Audige, Brown (incoming) you are sorely mistaken. The vultures are circling, believe me. The NCAA rules have slackened considerably regarding transfers given the fact they’ve been peppered with lawsuits from players over the last few years. This program is about to get picked clean.

  5. Tony was a great coach, who was able to find and build a strong and competitive program year after year. But for a bounce here or there, he would have brought the Tribe to the big dance. That Tony was also an exceptional human being, could recruit competitive athletes that were also academic, AND that he could still win CAA championships, suggests that there was no reason to let him go. Wishing Tony great success in his next role, and thanks for the memories!

  6. Fantastic coverage of W&M Athletics on this site. Always fun to read your stories. A few thoughts on this latest news:
    A good leader always manages to make tough decisions without alienating half the customer base, is a consensus builder, listens before reacting, and avoids unnecessary conflicts.

    Had our AD waited one more year before the firing, we’d have either made the tournament or entered a rebuilding phase- and a much more practical / palatable opportunity to fire the coach.

    Regardless of your opinion of our AD, or of firing the coach with the highest winning percentage in the conference over the last six years, the reality is:
    1- half the fan base is outraged
    2- at least 2/5 returning starters are considering transferring
    3- we now owe $1,700,000 to a coach we no longer employ
    4- our athletic department can’t fund capital improvements for certain teams already, i.e. swimming pool for swim team
    5- regardless of the basketball program’s success going forward, fewer fans will care – we’ve sold out our core values of doing things the right way, buying out our most successful coach ever as we fire him
    6- an NCAA tournament birth next year would be so tainted. The coach who built the program & assembled the players – gone; a new coach grasping for credit – winning in a down year for the CAA and looking to springboard into a school that pays real money; an AD taking credit for having the wisdom to “fix” the program -teaching a Dean Smith disciple lessons about coaching basketball, and players how to make free throws with a 7-point lead in the CAA Championship game 3 years ago, so thankful she is trying to tell us what winning is; and most importantly 12 players who don’t deserve and didn’t sign up to be caught up in this drama.

    For those in support of this decision and timing, just consider the level of risk, the level of fallout, the drop in fundraising, the bad press, the loss of momentum, the all or nothing, win at all costs mindset, etc.,

    There’s no way any rational, level-headed leader, makes this move, this year. Highest winning percentage in the CAA for the past six years, with five returning starters…at a school like W&M academically- and somehow the AD decides the timing was right to have all of us pay $1,700,000 for Shaver to go away now.

    Why would anyone donate a penny to the school going forward? To endorse this type of leadership?

  7. This is what happens when you have an AD with no spine get told what to do by ill informed alumni. Best of luck to the players transferring to new schools before next season.

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