“For seven years I was told that once you’re a Mountaineer, you’re always a Mountaineer,” former West Virginia offensive coordinator / current Michigan assistant Calvin Magee tells the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Chuck Finder. The former claims he was served up as a token candidate for the WV head coaching vacancy merely to placate the Black Coaches Association.
Magee (above) understands that some people, especially those who harbor resentment for all things Rich Rodriguez, will consider his viewpoint jaundiced because he is so aligned with the new Michigan coach. Magee doesn’t back down from his support for and gratitude to Rodriguez. Yet he feels stereotyped as a minority coach — “racial discrimination and harassment” was how his and Rodriguez’s agent, Mike Brown, described West Virginia’s handling of Magee in the end — and thereby disappointment about West Virginia administrators and for other qualified potential coaching candidates who happen to be a minority.
After all, he was just named the American Football Coaches Association’s assistant of the year. Yet he couldn’t on merit land either a head-coaching interview or an offer to remain offensive coordinator at WVU?
Perhaps that remains the most jangled emotion of all: an unsettled feeling from unanswered questions.
“It was just the end that was sour,” Magee said this past week by phone from Ann Arbor, Mich. “And I don’t want anybody to think I was offered the job there or was considered for the job there when that never happened. Never.”
According to Brown, who declined to identify the person involved in this incident, “Calvin was in discussions with this West Virginia University administrator, and Calvin kind of politely asked him, ‘Do you think I have a shot [at becoming the next Mountaineers head coach]?’ The administrator said, ‘No you don’t,’ and pointed to his skin. That’s why Calvin got on the plane.”
Magee said he told interim coach Bill Stewart his reasons for attending — for one thing, “to explore my options.” He returned the next day to Morgantown, but he quickly grasped that damage was done.
“I immediately felt like I should have stayed away” from Ann Arbor, said Magee. Mountaineers officials “were kind enough to let me coach the bowl game. But I had not officially resigned from West Virginia University. I was coming back to work.
“Two days later [Dec. 19], I got my phone confiscated from me and was told not to make any recruiting calls. So immediately after seven years of service, I thought, ‘Why are they doing this to me?’ On their behalf, I got an apology the next day [from Athletic Director Ed Pastilong] and given all the stuff back.”
That same Dec. 19, executive director Floyd Keith of the Black Coaches and Administrators asked Pastilong over the phone if minority candidates would be interviewed. He suggested names, including Magee. Everybody assumed that it was a done deal for him to follow Rodriguez to Michigan, added Magee. “Nobody talked to me. Until Floyd Keith called.”
Pastilong, through a spokesman Friday, disputed Magee’s recollection of some of these events. For one, Pastilong said, they had a private conversation after a Mountaineers coaches meeting that week and in it Magee “confirmed to me it was his intention to go to Michigan. … Calvin [also] indicated to me that he would have liked to have been considered for the head coach’s job at WVU. I told him that would be difficult to entertain since he was already committed to go to Michigan.” Moreover, Pastilong said Keith sent him a letter regarding minority interviewees and, in response on Dec. 19.
And Pastilong disputed Magee’s memory of their discussion about an interview.
Magee on Friday stood by his account, adding “When you’re going through the situation I was going through that week, you remember everything.”