Andrew Wilson was named the new Head Coach at Virginia Military Institute on April 12 of 2022 following two seasons at James Madison University, where he assisted JMU to consecutive winning seasons. Wilson also spent seven seasons at Georgia Southern University and helped lead the program to three straight 20-win seasons from 2017 to 2020. Wilson started his coaching career at Binghamton University before spending six seasons at the College of Charleston.
Can you walk our audience through the search process that resulted in you being offered the exciting opportunity to be the next Head Coach at VMI?
I received a call from the VMI administration on Monday night of the National Championship game and they offered me an interview for the next day, Tuesday. I told them I was very interested and would be excited about the opportunity. I stayed up all night and did a crash course on VMI to learn as much about the institution as possible and anyone I thought might be in the interview room. I had driven by Lexington hundreds of times on recruiting trips at JMU but had never stopped to see Post. I drove down the next day for the interview with Jim Miller and Lenny Brown. The interview lasted a couple of hours and went well.
I received a call the next day from Jim Miller and was invited back for the second round of interviews with the Superintendent of VMI, Major General Cedric Wins. He is a former great basketball player at VMI who went on to serve a decorated career in the US Army. The interview with General Wins sold me on VMI. I felt our visions aligned with the student-athlete experience and I could see that basketball was very important to him and he wanted to invest in the program. During my conversation with General Wins, I made it very clear how much I wanted the job and I feel that played a big role in me landing the job.
A few days after the interview with General Wins, I received a call from Jim Miller and was offered the job. I accepted on the spot and was on Post later that afternoon meeting with the team.
What was important to you when building your coaching staff for the first time as a Head Coach?
First and foremost, I wanted good people and role models for our players. I was looking for three assistant coaches who would represent VMI in the right way and shed a positive light on the program. I wanted a blend of youthfulness and experience. I knew who two of my assistant coach hires were going to be during the interview process and I think that helped me land the job by showing the AD that I had a plan in place before I was offered the job. For my final hire, I was looking for someone with head coaching experience who could help me navigate as a first-time head coach.
Knowing what you know now as a Head Coach, what advice do you have for assistant coaches to best prepare to lead their own program for the first time?
Don’t wait until the opportunity comes to prepare for the opportunity. I truly felt prepared and confident as I had rehearsed the interview process thousands of times in private. When my opportunity to interview came, I was able to clearly articulate my vision for the program. I also developed relationships in the coaching community and had a handful of guys I knew I wanted to pursue for my coaching staff.
Don’t think like an assistant coach when you’re an assistant coach. Challenge yourself as an assistant to think like a head coach and think outside the box. Don’t put limits on yourself. Constantly challenge yourself to become a better coach and person. Reach out to people in the coaching community and find someone you trust to be an advocate for you. Research different styles of play and study different coaches that you admire.