Buzz Williams has accepted the Texas A&M basketball coaching job, leaving Virginia Tech after a rapid rebuilding job that culminated in this year’s run to the Sweet 16.
Williams had broken the news to the Virginia Tech team at an 8 a.m. meeting.
The move was expected. The loss of Williams, a Texas native who once worked as an A&M assistant, is a major blow to Tech.
Williams steered Tech to 100 wins and a school-record three consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances in his five seasons as the Hokies' coach.
"Coach Williams made a very positive impact on the culture of our basketball program at Virginia Tech," Tech athletic director Whit Babcock said in a news release. "We appreciate all that Buzz and his staff did for our students and our program. We wish Buzz, Corey and their family the very best as they return to their home state of Texas."
Williams, who had guided Marquette to the Elite Eight in 2013, shocked the basketball world when he left that Big East school a year later to take over a Tech program that had finished in the ACC cellar for three straight seasons. The Tech program had become irrelevant during the two-year reign of Williams' predecessor, James Johnson.
Williams revived the program, guiding Tech from a 2-16 league mark and the ACC basement in his first year to a Sweet 16 appearance this year. The Hokies' season ended with a loss to Duke in the NCAA Tournament's East Regional semifinals last Friday.
"It's a long way to go from 2-16 to the Sweet 16," Williams said last week. "It's been gradual in some respects. I think it's been miraculous in many other respects."
Babcock hired Williams in March 2014, just two months after Babcock himself was hired by Tech.
Babcock must now hire Williams' replacement. Thanks to the success Williams had, Tech has a more desirable opening than it did five years ago.
"Thanks to our talented student-athletes, Coach Williams and his staff, Virginia Tech is now one of the most attractive jobs in the nation's top basketball conference, the ACC," Babcock said in the news release. "I'm extremely confident that we'll be able to identify and hire a new head coach who can further build on the success our men's basketball program has achieved in recent years."
Texas A&M, which went 14-18 overall and 6-12 in the Southeastern Conference this year, fired coach Billy Kennedy last month. Kennedy led A&M to two NCAA bids in seven seasons.
Williams was earning about $2.7 million in base and supplemental pay at Tech this year, in addition to the $200,000 retention bonus he received last April and was due to receive again at the end of this month. His contract also included deferred compensation and a $75,000 Sweet 16 bonus.
His Tech contract ran through the 2024-25 season, but Williams (or A&M on his behalf) has to pay Tech only a $500,000 buyout.
Texas A&M put out a news release later Wednesday morning. The school will introduce Williams at a news conference Thursday.
"I am so humbled and honored to return home to Texas A&M, and proud to lead the Aggies," Williams said in an A&M news release. "This is our home, and we are ready to join with the 12th Man to win championships, graduate our players and represent this world-class university with integrity."