In Seth Greenberg’s six years at Virginia Tech, no other school has made a
serious run at hiring Tech’s colorful, hard-working hoops-obsessed coach. That
may be getting ready to change, but whether it does or not, our opinion on Seth
Greenberg is this: He has done a very good job at Virginia Tech so far, he
should be retained, and the fact that he’s one of the lowest-paid coaches in the
ACC is an embarrassment and should be corrected.
Your opinion may differ, but that’s ours.
What brought this on? The New York Post reported last Thursday that
St. John’s is on the verge of firing coach Norm Roberts, and that Seth
Greenberg is their top candidate to replace Roberts. Roberts only makes
$650,000 per year, but “multiple highly-placed sources” told the Post
that St. John’s is willing to offer $1.5 million per year for six years to the
ACC Expansion (2004-05)
|*Boston College entered
conference in 2005-06
No big deal, right? With all the million-dollar coaches in the ACC, surely
Virginia Tech is already paying two-time ACC Coach of the Year Seth Greenberg
that much, right? Since expansion, VT is 48-48 in regular-season play in the
ACC, tied for fourth. Seth Greenberg is clearly one of the better coaches in the
ACC, so you would assume he’s well-compensated.
You would be wrong.
Greenberg makes $950,000 per year, which sounds good, but is one of the
lowest compensation packages in the ACC. We’re told that Seth is 11th in the
ACC, ahead of only NC State’s Sidney Lowe. Digging up current, accurate figures
on compensation packages is difficult at best, so we can only estimate, but it’s
a fact that Greenberg is one of the lowest in the ACC, if not the lowest.
Greenberg’s record over the last six seasons classifies him as one of the top
six coaches in the ACC, and that’s being conservative. You can argue that he’s
one of the top four. Regardless of exactly where his compensation ranks, if it’s
close to the bottom (and it is), he is clearly underpaid with regards to his ACC
And $950k is a far cry from the $1.5 million that St. John’s might be
offering. That’s the challenge Virginia Tech is up against, if the Post
report is true.
Even if the Post isn’t accurate, Seth Greenberg is underpaid, and it’s
well beyond time to remedy that situation.
A Quick Look at History
From the time Charlie Moir departed following the 1986-87 season to the time
Greenberg was hired, Virginia Tech endured some bad basketball coaching. Frankie
Allen was a disaster, both from a recruiting standpoint and an X’s and O’s
perspective. Allen was replaced by Bill Foster, a man who certainly knew his
basketball but was never intended to be more than a stop-gap hire. Foster
recruited one good class, rode it to an NIT championship and an NCAA appearance,
and left the cupboard mostly bare.
Foster’s successor was the late Bobby Hussey. Tech athletic director Jim
Weaver couldn’t wait to fire Hussey, who received two seasons of employment
before being summarily dismissed following the 1998-99 season.
For all his positive achievements at Virginia Tech, there is no doubt that
Jim Weaver royally screwed up the hiring of Hussey’s replacement. Ricky Stokes.
Time has shown Jim Weaver’s next hire to be one of good fortune. Seth
Greenberg was struggling to make headway at South Florida and was rumored to be
on the verge of being “run out of town” when Weaver made the call.
Greenberg gladly accepted the Virginia Tech job on April 3, 2003. He was hired
for the sum of $429,000 annually in total compensation.
At the time, that was a low figure, but reasonable and fair. It was almost
$200,000 a year more than Stokes was making, and the Virginia Tech athletic
department, which didn’t yet have an expanded Lane Stadium to increase revenue,
and which was suffering under onerous admission terms of Big East membership,
couldn’t afford much more.
The Tech men’s basketball program was a perennial money loser back then. In
2002-03, the Hokies lost $700,000 on men’s basketball, with expenditures of $2.1
million versus revenues of just $1.4 million.
In the first year of Greenberg’s tenure (2003-04), the Hokies lost $232,000
on basketball. That was Tech’s last year of Big East membership. Since entering
the ACC in 2004-05, men’s basketball revenue and profitability have exploded.
In the 2008-09 academic year, the most recent year for which TechSideline.com
has financial data on Virginia Tech athletics, the Hokie men’s basketball
program made almost $4 million for the athletic department (revenues of $8.42
million versus expenses of $4.49 million).
Over that same time period, Greenberg has seen his compensation more than
double, from $429k annually to $950k annually. But it’s still not enough.
Greenberg has been a careful, smart, energetic custodian of the men’s
basketball program. Is he perfect? No. Is he a really good basketball coach?
Yes. Is he the best Virginia Tech has had since Charlie Moir? Yes.
The Case for Keeping Greenberg
Four years into Frankie Allen’s tenure, he was fired. Six years into Bill
Foster’s tenure, he retired. Two years into Bobby Hussey’s tenure, he was fired.
Four years into Ricky Stokes’ tenure, he was fired.
Six years into Seth Greenberg’s tenure, he has rebuilt the program in a
fashion you would hope for, he continues to make progress, and he may be on the
verge of something special next year. Instead of shopping for a new coach, we
should be looking forward to a season that should bring Greenberg’s second NCAA
bid at Tech and could challenge for an ACC title.
Greenberg is also hitting his stride in recruiting. His 2011 recruiting class
could be the best ever at Virginia Tech.
Sure, Tech’s performance next season and the quality of its 2011 recruiting
class are unknowns, but all signs indicate that things are getting better. This
is the most compelling argument for bumping Greenberg’s pay and showing him that
his effort is appreciated: because he is still gaining momentum, six years in.
If you let him get away, everything he has built is in jeopardy, and a step
backwards is more likely than a step forward.
Why do I say that? Because if Virginia Tech can’t find a way to pay one of
the ACC’s best coaches a competitive salary, then who is going to want to coach
at Virginia Tech? Talk about poisoning the well; what message does it send if a
coach can win two conference coach of the year awards, tie for fourth in
conference winning percentage during his tenure, run a clean program … and not
be rewarded for his efforts?
It sends the following message: We’re not serious about men’s basketball. Do
your best, and you won’t be rewarded. We’re a stepping stone program to
something better, like, uh … St. John’s. We don’t reward good basketball
coaching talent when we see it, so don’t bother coaching here.
I don’t know about you, but that’s not what I want out of Virginia Tech’s
Greenberg deserves to be fairly compensated for his accomplishments, but just
as importantly, Virginia Tech needs to take a stand and show that this athletic
department is committed to men’s basketball, the glamour sport of the conference
we now call home. If we want to show that we truly belong in the ACC, we’ll act
like it, by paying a successful coach what he deserves.
Sources close to Greenberg indicated to us recently that Seth is not looking
to break the bank. A reasonable increase in pay, and perhaps an annuity is all
the coach is looking for. We’re told that he and his wife Karen like it in
Blacksburg. Seth has one daughter (Paige) who will graduate from Tech this year,
another (Ella) who is a freshman Tech cheerleader, and a third (Jackie) who is a
freshman at Blacksburg High School. The family is rooted in the community, and
families, even coaches’ families, are reluctant to move.
It doesn’t take a genius to know that Greenberg really wants to be here next
year, when the fruits of his labors will lead to one of the most
highly-anticipated basketball seasons in Tech history. The Hokies will return
all of their major contributors and will add two freshmen and a transfer (Allan
Chaney from Florida) who are all expected to contribute, especially Chaney.
All signs point to the obvious: Pay the man what he’s due. Put this behind
us, and let’s keep building the program. To do otherwise is just foolish, risky