HUNTINGTON — Patrick Farrell, chairman of Marshall University’s Board of Governors, on Tuesday disputed reports of any involvement by the board with regard to an extension for head football coach Doc Holliday.
Farrell explained that the decision not to renew Holliday’s contract, announced Jan. 4, was made by Marshall President Jerome Gilbert.
“The Marshall president made this decision after consulting with (Athletic Director) Mike Hamrick,” Farrell said by phone Tuesday. “It was not orchestrated by the governor (Jim Justice) or the Board of Governors.”
Policy No. GA-7 within Marshall University’s Board of Governors outlines the different roles within athletics oversight.
The Board of Governors serves as the fiduciary body for Marshall and provides oversight, such as through the board’s athletics committee.
Section 2.1.5 of that policy states that part of the role of the Board of Governors is “approving BOG Athletics Committee recommendations for contracts, contract revisions, or contract extensions for Athletics Department personnel with buyout clauses or compensation greater than $200,000.”
Farrell said the Board of Governors was not involved in a decision on Holliday due to Gilbert’s position on the matter, which was not to renew Holliday’s contract.
“If the president wanted to renew his contract, he would have brought it to us for our express consent,” Farrell said. “(That’s) any contract in the athletic department over $200,000. In this case, the president did not want to renew his contract. He doesn’t have to come to ask us to not do something. … What he did was he informed us that he was not going to be renewing his contract.
“I want to make sure that’s clear. He did come and tell us. He told us that he’s not going to be renewing it. We didn’t have a vote. It was simply informing us, and we said OK. What else can you say? It wasn’t a vote. It wasn’t on an agenda. As the president, he’s within his right to make that decision.”
Farrell’s words came to clarify a story that appeared in Tuesday’s edition of The Herald-Dispatch that referenced sources saying Hamrick went to the Board of Governors to request a contract extension for Holliday, 63.
As Farrell pointed out, within the lines of the process, Hamrick would have taken such a proposal to Gilbert, who then would have brought it before the Board of Governors had he approved the extension.
Farrell was appointed by Justice to Marshall’s Board of Governors in 2017 to serve a four-year term. He was then named board chairman on July 1, 2020.
Gilbert has been asked multiple times for comment on the matter, but has declined all requests, citing only that it is “a personnel issue.”
The only public comments to come from Gilbert on the matter came in a Jan. 4 news release that a search committee for a new head coach would be formed and that Hamrick would serve as chairman of the committee.
Gilbert also clarified his position on reports that outside influences may have had a hand in the decision.
“Just to be clear, there was no outside influences in this decision,” Gilbert said. “I consulted with the athletic director and made this decision.”
Farrell’s clarification of the process came on a day when the search committee was meeting with candidates virtually in the initial round of interviews for the head coaching position.
Those interviews are expected to take place Tuesday and Wednesday, with each virtual interview lasting approximately 75 minutes.
While nothing has been confirmed by the search committee, those expected to be interviewing for the job include Marshall defensive coordinator Brad Lambert, Philadelphia Eagles assistant tight ends coach Mike Bartrum, Georgia tight ends coach Todd Hartley, Alabama associate head coach and running backs coach Charles Huff, Louisville offensive coordinator Dwayne Ledford and Virginia special teams coordinator Ricky Brumfield.