Reggie Witherspoon is back in his element – and at an even higher level.
Witherspoon, fired after 14 season as the University at Buffalo head basketball coach following the 2012-13 season, Wednesday was formally hired as an assistant to Anthony Grant at Alabama. The sides had reached agreement last week pending the mandated background checks.
“I am excited to announce the addition of Reggie Witherspoon to our coaching staff,” Grant said in a news release. “Reggie brings a wealth of experience and coaching expertise. His abilities in developing talent and teaching the game are highly respected amongst his peers. His knowledge, combined with his impeccable character and ability to relate to and connect with people, will make his transition seamless.”
Witherspoon was a consultant during the past season and did some broadcast work for ESPN and Time Warner. He held a quickly convened news conference at his home Wednesday before heading to Toronto to attend Game Five of the Toronto Raptors-Brooklyn Nets first-round NBA playoff series.
In a scene similar to the news conference he held following his firing, Witherspoon held court surrounded by family and friends. Only this time the mood was jovial as he looks ahead to the challenge that awaits.
“It’s a great athletic department,” Witherspoon said. “They’ve had great success there athletically and coach Grant has been terrific with not only me, but he’s been great as a coach at Florida, at VCU and certainly at Alabama. … As I’ve gotten to know him I realize how much he cares for his players.”
Grant was an assistant at Florida under Billy Donovan, one of Witherspoon’s friends in the coaching world.
The Crimson Tide is looking to bounce back after going 13-19 overall last season and 7-11 in the Southeastern Conference. Before the dip ’Bama had three straight seasons of at least 21 wins under Grant, making the quarterfinals of the NIT in 2012-13 and the first round of the NCAA in 2011-12.
Witherspoon replaces former assistant coach Tony Pujol, according to the school’s website, and is one of at least four Western New York natives now employed as Division I assistants. The others are Rob Lanier at Texas under Rick Barnes, Adam Cohen at Harvard under Tommy Amaker and Carlin Hartman at Columbia under Kyle Smith.
“I’m thankful and grateful to be able to serve as part of the Western New York basketball community and to be able to have helped in any way that we’ve been able to help,” Witherspoon said. “I’m just so appreciative and so grateful for their support over the years. It’s not lost on me, their support. And I really appreciate everything that they’ve done over the years.”
Witherspoon had a base salary of $180,000 at UB. According to published reports the salary structure for Alabama basketball assistants in 2012 ranged from $90,000 to $183,750. Terms of this deal have not been released.