University of Tennessee at Chattanooga Vice Chancellor & Director of Athletics David Blackburn welcomed a large crowd of fans and supporters to the University Center on campus today. Blackburn introduced Hall of Famer Jim Foster as the school’s fifth women’s basketball head coach.
Coach Foster has 35 years of experience as an NCAA Division I head coach and will be inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame on June 8, 2013. He spent the previous 11 years at Ohio State and has also coached at Vanderbilt and St. Joseph’s (Pa.).
Blackburn announced Foster’s hire via Twitter (@DBlackburnUTC) on Thursday, shocking Mocs fans and supporters, along with the rest of the women’s basketball world, with what has been widely described as a “Slam Dunk” move. Blackburn briefly addressed the crowd before turning the podium over to Foster who spoke about his love of coaching and working with student-athletes.
The full press conference video is attached to this story, along with photos from the event. A transcript of the press conference is also located below. Fans can reserve their 2013-14 season tickets on GoMocs.com or by calling the UTC Ticket Office at (423) 266-MOCS (6627).
UTC Vice Chancellor & Director of Athletics David Blackburn
“Thank you so much for coming today. We’ll try to be brief, but obviously today is a special day. We’re here to announce our new women’s basketball coach and we’re excited to do so.
“Before we do that I want to thank a few people. I would like to start off with the team. They’ve behaved very well in the last month. They’ve gone to class and continued to do their workouts and to exemplify the winning spirit they’ve come to know. I certainly want to recognize Katie Burrows for holding the fort down, and thank all the people before this team. This is a storied program and I’ve come to know that in my time from a distance watching it and from coming here. It is a proud program and a storied program. What we were able to do here with this hire is partly because of all those supporters and student-athletes who have made this program special. I would be remiss not to mention that.
“I’d like to take a minute to thank interim Chancellor Dr. Grady Bogue, Dr. Steven Angle, our chancellor-elect for their patience with me through this process. We tried to work extremely efficient and proper and we moved quick and we certainly thank them for that. The senior group of the athletics department, they have meant so much to me. They have helped me through this process. They have been tremendous. I thank them for that. And for Collegiate Sports Associates for helping us with the search as well.
“We felt it was important to hire someone who could maintain where our program is. We felt it even more important to hire someone who could come in and move the program forward. I told you before I would always look for people that were competitive, that have a winning spirit both on and off the court, and who are looking to improve every day. That was important as we moved forward and made this hire.
“I’m so excited. I’m proud to introduce to you your next head women’s basketball coach, Coach Jim Foster.”
UTC Women’s Basketball Head Coach Jim Foster
“Before I get started, Abby Ramsey who played for me at Vanderbilt, first time I’ve seen here in quite a while.
“Longer than I’d like to remember, my impression of Chattanooga is I’ve always liked this place. The SEC Tournament helped me get an understanding of this place. We had host families, wonderful people. Vivid memory: We were getting ready to play in the championship game and unbeknownst to me, I was taking a pregame nap – Sherry Sam – 1st team All American at Vandy – calls my wife and says, ‘Do you have an extra set of clothes for Coach?’ She said, ‘Yes. Why?’ ‘When we win tonight, we’re going to dump the Gatorade on him.’ I wish she would have told me that story before. Then I would have been much less nervous coaching the basketball game. I was surprised by the Gatorade.
“We’ve won games here, we’ve had a lot of success here. We came here often to the Bluff View Inn Bed and Breakfast - love that area, as an escape from Nashville. Chattanooga has always been a place that we’ve been very fond of so when this opportunity presented itself, I more than wanted to jump at it. When I realized that David [Blackburn] was a fellow Philadelphian, I picked up the accent right away, I knew he was from South Philly. I was very comfortable with him.
On relationship with Wes Moore
“Ironically, about six years ago, Wes Moore had given his team about three days off and he came up and stayed in our house with us and watched our practices and we spent three days talking basketball. I’ve known Wes, I spent about half an hour on the phone yesterday, so it just all fit.”
On the status of Katie Burrows
“I’ve made my first executive decision. Katie is going to stay. So you know I’m not dumb. We’ll find out about the coaching part as we progress.”
On style of play and philosophy of coaching
“Ask me that question in a month. My basketball philosophy is I coach what is in the gym. If I’ve got a 6-foot-6 All-American, on the low block, they’re going to touch the ball often. If I don’t. If I’ve got guards who can shoot the three and get up and get in your grill, we’ll play that way. So I’m going to, quite frankly, wait until I see what’s in the gym. I’ll make a decision what direction I want to go in. I would think, based on the class coming in, up tempo, pressuring on defensively would be somewhere on the agenda unless, of course, a 6-6 kid wanders in.”
Moving forward from Ohio State, does that leave you with a chip on your shoulder or does this reenergize you?
“I don’t know if ‘reenergize’ is the word. I love competing. I love winning. I love being around young people. I love watching them grow. We won six conference championships at Ohio State. We won 77 percent of our games. Our players graduated. The Player of the Year in the Big 10 was from Ohio State eight years in a row. I have very fond memories of that. I’ll work toward having many fond memories here.”
Having coached at the BCS level, why make the move to Chattanooga?
“I love St. Joe’s. I’ve been David and I’ve been Goliath. It’s a heck of a lot more fun being David. If you can make Goliath fall, there’s a lot that goes into that.”
On contact with the team so far.
“I was on the phone with every player yesterday. I had good conversations. I enjoyed it. I spent about a half hour on the phone with Wes [Moore]. I spent a lot of time on the phone with Katie [Burrows]. I found out I ... like the way she handles herself in traffic.
On his impression of the team.
“I’d be anything but a fool if I didn’t have a positive impression of a 29-4 team. I get a little nervous when my new boss is talking about doing better than that. I want to see them in the gym and see what their work ethic is. If you work hard, I love ya and I love the results. If you don’t I’ll teach you how.”
Talk about your phone conversation with former UTC head coach Wes Moore.
“He has a comfort zone with me being here and I have a comfort zone with replacing him. In a lot of respects, we are somewhat the same. We love to coach and we love to be in the gym. We love our players. The only problem Wes has is that he is an American League fan. They don’t play baseball as long as they have a DH. And I am a Phillies guy.”
On his relationship with Geno Auriemma.
“I gave him his first job. I am the one who talked him into coaching. We were at a junior college together. We were in college coaching, neither of us had a degree. We were still working on our degrees, so I can tell you it was a different era. I had become a high school coach. I was a boy’s assistant varsity and JV coach and the athletics director asked me if I would like to coach the girls team. I said yes and I hired Geno.
“We were there two years and St. Joseph’s called me and asked if I would like to coach the women’s team. And I said yes. I made $3,000 and Geno made $1,000. I gave him my car. My $100 Volkswagen. I went out and bought a $150 Volkswagen. We had cars.
“I loved it. We are still very good friends.”