Virginia Tech made college football headlines by mutually agreeing to part ways with head coach Justin Fuente before 8 a.m. ET Tuesday. While the news was expected for some time and not all that shocking, it is a move that will cause a hit to the Hokies’ bank account. By not waiting until Dec. 15 to fire Fuente, Virginia Tech will pay him an $8.75 million buyout, rather than $7.5 million had it waited until after that date, athletic director Whit Babcock announced at his press conference on Tuesday.
Fuente was hired ahead of the 2016 season, replacing Frank Beamer after his legendary career leading the Virginia Tech football program. Early on, it looked like the Hokies were headed in the right direction under his guidance, as he won 10 games in his first season and won the Belk Bowl. Fuente followed that up with nine wins and a Camping World Bowl appearance in Year 2. But after the second season, things went south for Fuente.
After winning 19 games in its first two years under Fuente, Virginia Tech won 19 games from 2018-2020. In the three years prior to the 2021 season, the Hokies went 19-18 and lost two bowl games. This year, things have not been much better than that. The Hokies started out 3-1 on the year with a win over then-No. 10 North Carolina. But after that, Virginia Tech lost four of its next five. The Hokies did beat Duke, 48-17 over the weekend but it did not appear convincing enough to keep Fuente safe. Virginia Tech athletic director Whit Babcock announced the move in a release on Tuesday morning.
“We sincerely appreciate the contributions that Coach Fuente made to our football program and the positive impact he made on our student-athletes during his time at Virginia Tech,” Babcock said in the statement. “While it is never easy to make a change, I believe in order for our football program to attain the type of sustained success that is expected at Virginia Tech, the time was right for new leadership of our football program.
“Virginia Tech is one of the most attractive football jobs in America, competing in one of the nation’s premier conferences, the ACC. I’m extremely confident that we’ll be able to identify and hire a new head coach who can build on our rich history and winning tradition.”
Babcock will address the media at Virginia Tech’s regularly scheduled football availability at 10:45 a.m. ET Tuesday.
With the win over Duke this past weekend, Virginia Tech sits at 5-5 on the 2021 season. The Hokies will close the season out with two road games against Miami and Virginia. The Hokies and Hurricanes kick this Saturday at 7:30 p.m. ET.