Men’s basketball program loses coach
Bill Grier fired after 8 years as head coach
The University of San Diego men’s basketball program was rocked this past Monday by the news that head coach Bill Grier will not be returning next season after eight years at the helm of the program.
Hired in 2007 after a successful career as an assistant under Mark Few at Gonzaga University, Grier led the Toreros to new heights during his tenure at USD.
In only his first season, Grier was at the head of a Torero team that not only reached the NCAA tournament, but became the first San Diego team ever to win a tournament game by contributing to the madness of March and knocking off the heavily-favored University of Connecticut Huskies in the first round.
That season was also punctuated by a huge road win against powerhouse Kentucky in historic Rupp Arena. Since that first year, which was ultimately marred by a point shaving scandal outside of Grier’s control, the Toreros have also garnered attention for upsets over WCC juggernauts such as St. Mary’s, BYU, and Gonzaga.
When Grier was initially hired eight years ago, he was recognized by USD athletic director Ky Snyder as a top-notch recruiter and mentor who had the potential to bring in players that could put the program on the path to success. In many ways, Grier has done just that during his career as a Torero.
His most recent recruiting classes have been the most successful, as he was able to sign players such as seniors Johnny Dee, Chris Anderson, and junior Jito Kok.
It is this trio that has come to occupy a large portion of the USD career record books, with Dee now leading the way in points, Anderson in assists and steals, and Kok in blocks.
Dee is very appreciative for having Grier as a coach during his four years as a Torero player.
“[I] was impressed by Coach Grier’s knowledge of the game, but also by the fact that he truly believed in me from the start,” Dee said.
It was this faith in his players that allowed Grier to extract as much from his teams as he ultimately did.
Above simply his high basketball IQ, Grier gained recognition for his attitude and relationship to the team and the USD community.
“Coach Grier’s honesty and integrity always stood out,” Dee said. “He made sure we lived the right way.”
Because of this commitment to nurturing men of character as well as basketball players, the impact of Grier’s departure was certainly felt within the team’s locker room. Several players declined to comment for this article out of respect for Grier.
“The news is definitely a hard thing to hear,” Dee said.
Unfortunately, despite all these successes both on and off the court, the program has fallen short of the high standards set by other teams on campus, and it is this fact that played the biggest role in Grier’s dismissal, according to athletic director Ky Snyder.
“While Coach Grier has achieved recent improvements, these improvements have not quite met the expectations that were set when we signed him,” Snyder said. “We want our men’s basketball team to be competing for conference championships on a regular basis, and it has simply not reached that level yet.”
Grier is very appreciative for the opportunity to coach USD for eight years, but the news is difficult.
“I’m more disappointed than anyone that we didn’t win more games, but I know we did things the right way,” Grier said. “ I want to thank President Lyons, Ky Snyder and the University of San Diego for the tremendous opportunity to serve such an outstanding academic institution. I also want to thank my staff and our players for their efforts and contributions.”
Moving forward, the athletic department will immediately begin the search for Grier’s successor. While Snyder did not admit to any possible targets at this point, the field will be focused around coaches who can fulfill the student athlete model at an elite university, that is USD.
“We want someone who can be a recruiter, a teacher, and a mentor as well as a good basketball coach,” Snyder said.
Finally, while Grier’s next step is unclear at this point, Snyder made a point of expressing the tremendous impact Grier has had here at USD.
“I think the world of Bill Grier and his staff,” Snyder said. “They have represented this school extremely well, and will definitely be missed.”
The Toreros now begin their look for a replacement head coach.