STATESBORO — Virginia Tech assistant coach and former College of Charleston interim head coach Mark Byington was introduced as the new head men’s basketball coach at Georgia on Monday at a news conference at the Bishop Field House.
Byington replaces four-year GSU coach Charlton “CY” Young, who was fired after the conclusion of the 2012-13 season. Young was 43-84 in his four years at GSU.
Byington was under the wing of longtime Georgia Tech and College of Charleston men’s basketball coach Bobby Cremins for seven years in Charleston. He spent this past season as an assistant at Virginia Tech. Byington, 36, also has been an assistant at Virginia and Hargrave Military Academy. He spent the final month of the 2011-12 season as the interim head coach at Charleston after Cremins resigned for heath reasons. He went 7-4, but was passed over for the head coaching job at Charleston, a move he referred to as “bittersweet.”
Byington said he met the Eagles for the first time Monday morning.
“I told them in a meeting (Monday) that they’ve got to buy in,” Byington said. “We’ve got guys who are rising seniors but have not won here. I told them they’ve got to try to leave a legacy. They came to school here and they had different aspirations, different goals. I asked each and every one of them, they haven’t reached those goals. I want them to have a chip on their shoulder and I want them to be hungry.”
GSU Athletic Director Tom Kleinlein said one player from GSU’s 2012-13 team has requested a release for transfer since the announcement of the coaching change, but would not comment on which player made the request.
Byington is excited about the roster he has inherited.
“I feel like we’re athletic,” he said. “I feel like we’re versatile, I feel like we can shoot the ball at a decent pace (and) I feel like we have some really good parts to work with.”
The Eagles, who will play their final season in the Southern Conference next season before joining the Sun Belt Conference in 2014, never have won a SoCon title. They joined the league in 1993.
Byington said the move to the Sun Belt will help boost GSU’s perception and exposure to potential recruits in new areas.
Kleinlein said Byington agreed to a three-year guaranteed contract supplemented by the GSU Athletic Foundation. He did not comment on the amount of either contract.
Byington said he expects to name his staff of assistant coaches soon.