Justin Fuente is no longer Virginia Tech's football coach.
The school announced Tuesday morning that it had 'mutually agreed' to part ways Fuente. He was in his sixth season at Virginia Tech.
"We sincerely appreciate the contributions that Coach Fuente made to our football program and the positive impact he made on our student-athletes during his time at Virginia Tech," Virginia Tech athletic director Whit Babcock said in a statement. "While it is never easy to make a change, I believe in order for our football program to attain the type of sustained success that is expected at Virginia Tech, the time was right for new leadership of our football program."
Virginia Tech is currently 5-5 with two games to go in 2021. The Hokies were 5-6 in 2020 and didn’t go to a bowl game. It was the first season without a bowl game for the Hokies since the school went 2-8-1 in 1992 before a long run of excellence under Frank Beamer.
Fuente was hired from Memphis ahead of the 2016 season. The Hokies went 10-4 in his first season with the school and then never got to 10 wins again. After Tech went 9-4 in 2017, Fuente’s teams have had just one winning season. VT needs to get a win at either Miami or Virginia to make a bowl game in 2021.
Virginia Tech finishes with a 43-31 record under Fuente. Assistant coach J.C. Price will be the Hokies' interim coach for the rest of the season.
Fuente was set to get $10 million from Virginia Tech if he was fired in November. His buyout dropped to $7.5 million after Dec. 1 and Babcock said in a news conference on Tuesday morning that the school will pay Fuente $8.75 million. They just split the difference between Fuente's November buyout and his December buyout.
Fuente issued a statement through the school after he was relieved of his duties.
“To the many incredible young men that I had the privilege to coach, so many of you have made a lasting impact on our family," he said. "I can’t thank you enough for your dedication and your commitment to doing your very best, whether that was on the field, in the classroom or in your personal lives.”
“To the fabulous assistant coaches and support staff at Virginia Tech, I can’t express how much I appreciated all of your work and all your sacrifices. It takes so many dedicated, hard-working, and loyal people behind the scenes to make a football program run smoothly. Thank you.”
Message to Hokie Nation from Justin Fuente pic.twitter.com/ee9iY5PjtM
— Virginia Tech Football (@HokiesFB) November 16, 2021
Fuente is 7th Power Five coach who won't return in 2022
Fuente is the seventh Power Five coach to lose his job during the 2021 season. USC coach Clay Helton kicked off the hiring cycle after he was fired two weeks into the season and Washington State, LSU, TCU, Texas Tech and Washington have all made or announced coaching changes so far this season.
Only Texas Tech has announced its new coach for 2022, meaning Virginia Tech joins an already crowded field of schools looking for coaches. And that field is likely to get more crowded in the next couple of weeks.