Gov. Jim Justice pressured Marshall University leaders in recent months to shake up how the school’s football team is coached, according to a source familiar with the matter. The governor has sought to oust the head football coach, Doc Holliday, and install his longtime friend and former Herd coach Bobby Pruett, said the source, who requested anonymity. This time last year, as Justice was campaigning to be the Democratic nominee for governor, Pruett appeared alongside former West Virginia University coach Don Nehlen in a commercial supporting Justice. “It was not a meeting to say, ‘Fire the coach and hire Pruett,’ ” Justice chief of staff Nick Casey said in a statement Wednesday evening. “It was a meeting to say, ‘Ratchet up your game and do something to get yourself back to greatness.’ ” Marshall President Jerome Gilbert said he made the trek to White Sulphur Springs on Dec. 4 after Justice, then the governor-elect, asked to speak with him in his office at The Greenbrier. Gilbert said Justice “just wanted to talk” about the school and said he would not disclose what they talked about. “I probably shouldn’t comment on any of that,” Gilbert said Wednesday evening. “I want to maintain a good relationship with the governor, and it’s unfortunate that this information got out.” Nearly three months after that meeting, on March 28, Justice summoned five members of the school’s board of governors to his office at the Capitol. Again, Justice reportedly asked the board members to get rid of Holliday. Justice also asked the board members to fire Gilbert and Athletic Director Mike Hamrick, the man responsible for hiring Holliday, according to the Gazette-Mail’s source. Neither Pruett nor Hamrick responded to the Gazette-Mail’s requests for comment Wednesday evening.
West Virginia Governor trying to get Marshall to fire head coach
Charleston Gazette-Mail | Apr 14