UMBC men's basketball coach Ryan Odom is not leaving for the same position at Virginia Tech, he told The Baltimore Sun on Saturday.
Of the reports connecting him to the high-profile vacancy, Odom said in a text message: “Nothing to it.”
Two other sources with knowledge of the situation confirmed the coach would not be leaving after three seasons in Catonsville. The Washington Post reported initially Saturday that the Hokies were set to announce Odom as coach at 6 p.m. Saturday. According to the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Odom talked to Virginia Tech athletic director Whit Babcock about the opening but no agreement was reached.
Eight days in March. That was all it took for UMBC to carry college basketball fans on one of the most improbable and charming rides in the recent history of the sport. A year later, here’s that story in the words of the players, coaches and administrators who pulled it off.
The Hokies are seeking a replacement for Buzz Williams, who left for Texas A&M on Wednesday after leading Virginia Tech to a program-record three straight NCAA tournaments, including a Sweet 16 appearance this spring. Seton Hall coach Kevin Willard also reportedly withdrew from consideration for the position Saturday.
Under a new contract signed last offseason, Odom is due a base annual salary of $425,000 through 2023, while his buyout increased to $225,000 for the duration of his contract. UMBC athletic director Tim Hall, who hired Odom, acknowledged to The Sun last year that Odom “wants to, at some point, I think, see if he could [coach] on a bigger stage.” But he added: “I would rather attempt to incentivize somebody to stay versus wanting to penalize them if they want to leave.”
Odom, 44, served as a Virginia Tech assistant coach under Seth Greenberg from 2003 to 2010 and is 67-36 in his three seasons with the Retrievers. Last season, UMBC became the first No. 16 seed in men's NCAA tournament history to defeat a No. 1 seed, stunning the Hokies' Atlantic Coast Conference rival, Virginia. Since leaving Division II Lenoir-Rhyne in 2016, Odom has overseen three of the Retrievers’ four winningest seasons.
In his first season, Odom orchestrated a 14-win improvement and received the Joe B. Hall Award, given to the top first-year coach in Division I. In 2017-18, he earned the Hugh Durham Award as the nation’s top mid-major coach after UMBC won a school-record 25 games and claimed its first America East tournament championship in a decade. Despite a string of injuries this season, the Retrievers returned to the conference final, losing to regular-season champion Vermont.
With the program’s NCAA tournament upset and the success of former guard Jairus Lyles, who last year became the first UMBC product to sign an NBA deal, Odom said last month that he has not signed a new recruit in the past year, preferring a wait-and-see approach. The Retrievers will lose leading scorer Joe Sherburne to graduation but otherwise are set to return nine players who averaged double-digit minutes last season.
Despite heightened interest in the program, and now in him, Odom said his job duties hadn’t changed much at UMBC.
“From the coaching standpoint, it’s not really different, because you’re coaching your team every day,” he said last month. “There’s certainly more to do. There’s much more coverage. The other way that it’s changed is, every time we step into an arena, doesn’t matter if it’s big time or the lowest level, we’re getting the other team’s best shot. That has definitely changed. Year one, we could sneak up on somebody, because they just expected us to lose. Now, they expect to see what they saw on March 16 [last year against Virginia]. Fair or not, that’s the way it is, and that’s where you want your program to be.”