EDITOR’S NOTE: This semester WTVR.com has partnered with VCU’s School of Mass Communications “iPadJournos” mobile and social media journalism project.
By Nicolas Nightingale and Zachary Holden (Special to WTVR.com)
RICHMOND, Va. – With conflicting reports on Shaka Smart’s future as VCU’s basketball head coach and his possible exit to the University of Illinois, anxiety among students and professors on campus is growing.
Four days after the 63-61 loss to Indiana University in the NCAA Tournament, the pending decision by Smart is on everyone’s mind at VCU.
“I’m a little bit nervous, because I heard today that they’re willing to do whatever it takes to get him,” VCU Junior Travis Grammo said about the aggressive recruiting efforts by Illinois.
“He and the basketball team have brought in so much more revenue and incoming students to VCU. I’d really hate to see him go,” said VCU Junior Kelli Schanze. “I’m pretty nervous because Shaka himself, since he’s been here, he’s kind of elevated the whole idea of VCU itself,” she added.
Even some professors are anxiously awaiting the decision.
“I think we’re all nervous that he might leave, but we’re all hoping that he won’t,” said Daphne Rankin, a sociology professor. But when asked whether she thinks Smart will stay, she simply responded with a confident “Yes.”
Others on campus are also optimistic and confident that Smart will stay at VCU.
“I don’t think Shaka’s going to leave, so it doesn’t make me nervous,” said Sophomore Caroline Athing and added that he “has a lot of unfinished business here.”
Junior Jonathan Minor said Smart will stay because of his relationship with his players.
"I think he likes the kids,” said Minor, who is also convinced that since Smart did not leave after the last season and received a new contract, he will stay again this time.
Those who are anxious over the pending decision were able to take some comfort yesterday in a report by WTVR.com which confirmed that Smart was on the road recruiting for VCU.
This story was reported by the “iPadJournos” mobile and social media journalism project, a cooperation between WTVR.com and VCU’s School of Mass Communications.