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Foster leaving; Hussey selected

By Jack Williams

Spectrum Volume 19 Issue 03 - September 12, 1996

Bill Foster, one of college basketball's biggest winners in a 29-year career, will step down as Virginia Tech coach at the end of the 1996-97 season. Foster's top assistant, Bobby Hussey, will succeed him as head coach.

Dave Braine, Tech's director of athletics, made those announcements last week at a media conference on campus.

Braine hailed Foster for his many contributions to college basketball, for his impressive record of 517 wins and 309 losses, and for lifting Tech back into the national spotlight over the past five years. In that stretch, Foster's teams won the National Invitation Tournament championship in 1995 and made the NCAA field last winter with a 23-6 record.

Braine announced that Hussey, a former head coach at Belmont Abbey and Davidson College, will be given a four-year contract.

"Bobby is the right man for the future of Tech basketball," Braine said. "He will carry on Bill Foster's program without missing a beat and keep us headed in the right direction."

The coaching change will come on the day following Tech's final game of the 1996-97 season. Braine emphasized that Foster will be head coach throughout this season.

Foster, 60, said he heads into retirement with mixed emotions. "You never know when is the right time," Foster said, "but I believe my time has come.

"We have had a great five years here and accomplished more than we ever dreamed we could. The program is in good shape. That was my desire all along-to leave the program in better shape than it was when I took the job.

"I am delighted that Bobby has been chosen to take over the team. That will give the program continuity. Together, we have laid a good foundation and now he can just continue along."

Hussey, 55, is starting his 26th year as a basketball coach. He won 287 games and had six 20-plus win seasons in 18 years as a head coach, 10 seasons at Belmont Abbey and eight years at Davidson College.

Hussey said, "I feel very honored to have been selected to be here by Bill Foster in the first place and now to have the opportunity to be the head coach. I have never been at a place in my career that I have enjoyed more than Blacksburg and Virginia Tech. My goal will be to try to build on the traditions that have been established here under Bill Foster."

Braine said, "I cannot begin to express how much gratitude we owe to Bill Foster. We knew when we hired him five years ago he was a perfect fit for Virginia Tech. He has given us a program in which we take great pride. He is a man of integrity and one of basketball's all-time coaching greats."

Foster's overall Tech record heading into the upcoming season is 86-62. His last Tech team will emphasize youth with only one returning starter, Ace Custis, in the fold.