Appalachian State fires basketball coach Jason Capel

Winston-Salem JournalMarch 10, 2014 

N.C. State, NC State, Wolfpack, basketball, ACC Appalachian Stat

Appalachian State's head coach Jason Capel can't believe the call during the second half.

ETHAN HYMAN — ehyman@newsobserver.com Buy Photo

— Jason Capel will not return as Appalachian State’s men’s basketball coach.

Charlie Cobb, Appalachian’s athletics director, announced Monday that Capel’s contract will not be renewed. Capel, who was hired in April of 2010, is at the end of a four-year contract that will expire March 31.

Capel was 53-70 in four seasons as the Mountaineers’ coach.

The Mountaineers’ 2013-14 season ended Friday with a 70-56 loss to Samford in the first round of the Southern Conference tournament. They finished the season 9-21, the program’s worst record since going 9-21 in 2003-04.

“At the end of the day, looking at and evaluating the program over the last four years, we haven’t met expectations,” Cobb said during a teleconference Monday evening. “Coach knows it, I think our kids knew it, and certainly I think the Appalachian community knows it. Wins and losses are a big part of that expectation piece.”

Cobb said that he wanted new leadership in place heading into a new conference. The Mountaineers are leaving the SoCon and will play in the Sun Belt Conference next season.

He said that a search for a new coach will begin immediately, and that the focus will be on finding someone who has experience and has been a successful college head coach.

Attempts to reach Capel by telephone were unsuccessful.

Capel said after Friday’s season-ending loss that it had been a frustrating season although he was proud of his team’s effort.

The Mountaineers were hindered by poor shooting, and didn’t have a full roster available through much of the season for a variety of reasons. The Mountaineers used 12 different starting lineups over the course of the season.

Capel said after Friday’s final game: “(As for) my own personal things, I’m blessed to coach and shape young men’s lives. I think we did that this year, even with losses we did that with guys understanding that in the game of life you’re going to face adversity. It’s what you do with that that’s going to show who you really are. I’m proud of this team, even with the record we had, and I’m proud of the character they’ve shown. … Personal things, that will take care of itself. I’m a blessed man.”

Cobb didn’t have a time frame for when he wants to make a hire.

“It certainly will be a little bit longer than we took to hire Jason but probably not as long as we took to hire (previous coach Buzz Peterson),” Cobb said. “We’re not going to be in a super fast hurry.”

It took six weeks for Peterson to be hired for his second term. Capel was hired just three days after Peterson’s departure for UNC Wilmington.

Cobb said that there will be a committee formed to evaluate candidates.

Cobb said that in 2010 he went with his instinct in hiring Capel as a rookie head coach with one year of experience as an assistant. He said at the time that he liked the response of players to the idea of Capel taking over as coach, that he liked the way Capel handled himself and that he liked Capel’s basketball pedigree.

Capel, a former North Carolina player and the son of former college head coach Jeff Capel and the brother of former college head coach Jeff Capel III, served as an assistant for Peterson in 2009-10.

At the time of his hiring, at age 30, Jason Capel was the youngest head coach in NCAA Division I.

Cobb said at the time that Capel fit budget constraints. He was hired with a base salary of $150,000 annually plus incentives that potentially added another $20,000.

Peterson made about $220,000 at Appalachian in 2009-10.

Cobb said that he didn’t want to put an exact number on salary possibilities.

“We are going to try to be competitive with the Sun Belt salaries, which frankly are fairly competitive with the Southern Conference salaries,” he said.

Cobb said this time, given where the program is, that his goal is to “find an experienced head coach, someone who has been successful regardless of the (collegiate) level.”

“This won’t be the only job open, and so you’re obviously competing with other schools as well,” Cobb said.

Capel’s teams were 32-38 in four seasons against SoCon opponents.

He won his first game as the Mountaineers’ coach, 89-86 at Tulsa. His first team in 2010-11 finished 16-15 and marked his only winning season. The Mountaineers were 13-18 in 2011-12 and 15-16 in 2012-13 before this season’s 9-21 finish.

Cobb said that the possibility of retention of any of the Mountaineers’ current assistant coaches will be left up to the new head coach.

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