Mark Byington is going home. Virginia Tech announced Thursday that the longtime College of Charleston assistant had accepted a position on new coach James Johnson’s staff. Johnson, who had left Virginia Tech to become an assistant at Clemson, replaced Seth Greenberg who was fired in late April.
Byington, 38, grew up in and around Blacksburg, Va., and he will be renewing a coaching relationship with Johnson that began at the College of Charleston. Johnson and Byington were coaches on Tom Herrion’s College of Charleston staff during the 2002-03 season.
“I grew up with (former Virginia Tech and NBA stars) Dell Curry and Bimbo Coles, but wasn’t good enough to play here. But it’s always been a special place to me,” Byington said Thursday afternoon.
Byington said it was a difficult decision to leave Charleston, where he had coached for nine years. His wife, the former Christy Masters, is from Charleston, and her father and brother both played for the school. But Byington said he has her full support.
“When you’ve been in a place for so long, it becomes part of you,” he said. “I’ll miss the players and the people there.”
Byington worked with former coach Bobby Cremins for six years and served as associate head coach. When Cremins began a medical leave of absence in January, Byington was named interim head coach and directed the team to a 7-4 record.
After Cremins announced his retirement, Byington was a finalist for the opening which ultimately went to former Tulsa coach Doug Wojcik. Wojcik had retained Byington on the staff, but said he was happy for Byington’s opportunity.
“His contributions to the College of Charleston — his work ethic and organization — have made a huge impact on our basketball program over the last nine years,” Wojcik said.
“I know what an opportunity like this did for my career and being an assistant at the ACC level will allow him to continue to grow professionally and put him in a great position to achieve his future career goals as he moves up the coaching ladder.”
Byington said he called each of the College of Charleston players to inform them of his move.
“Mark Byington is a young, energetic and enthusiastic coach and I’m thrilled to have him on our staff,” Johnson said in a statement announcing the hirings.
Virginia Tech also announced the hiring of Navy associate head coach Kurt Kanaskie and former VMI player Ramon Williams to round out Johnson’s staff.