Wojcik accepts job at ECU
GREENVILLE, N.C. — Doug Wojcik admits that he was torn.
The long-time college basketball coach has been away from the bench for the last three seasons. During that time, the Wheeling Central and Naval Academy graduate had ample time to spend time with his family and watch his two sons (Paxson and Denham) play.
But, the competitive juices and desire to coach again never fully leave when you coach at basically the highest level of the profession.
Such was the case for Wojcik.
“I enjoyed being with my family, watching my sons play and just being a fan,” Wojcik said during a recent phone interview. “On the other hand, I was anxious to do what I’ve done for 25 or 26 years. It’s been kind of baby steps for me to get back into (coaching).”
After his tenure as the head coach at the College of Charleston ended rather unceremoniously in 2014, Wojcik re-evaluated many things. Couple that with his father, Frederick, dying in late January and it led to his current opportunity.
“I have a new sense of purpose,” Wojcik said. “It’s been a gradual process to get back into basketball.”
Earlier this month, Wojcik was hired as an assistant coach at East Carolina University where he’ll work under Jeff Lebo.
Lebo reached out to Wojcik in mid July after he lost an assistant to Ohio State.
“Jeff called me in the middle of the July recruiting period to see if I would even be interested and I immediately said, ‘yes,” Wojcik recalled. “He didn’t really touch (filling the job) until after recruiting was over because there was just no way to do anything with it at that point.”
With the recruiting going into a dead period in August, Lebo reengaged with Wojcik and the ball got rolling, leading to his official hiring a little more than a week ago.
“I probably won’t know how much I missed coaching until we get back on the court,” Wojcik said. “I’ve been with my family basically every day for the last three year, so it’s going to be different for me to going back to being a geographic bachelor, but it’s nice to be back and have that (coaching) adrenaline going again.”
A lot of coaching hires come down to relationships. But, Wojcik’s hiring at East Carolina doesn’t totally fit into that mold. He and Lebo know each other and have spent time together at Conference USA meetings and such. But, had no working relationship.
“In my final season as a player (at Navy), Jeff was at North Carolina and we almost played them in the NCAA Tournament,” Wojcik said. “We got into coaching about the same time because we went and played a couple of years in the NBA and I had to fulfill my navy commitment. We’d recruited against each other and coached against each other three times.”
Wojcik’s tenure at Charleston ended after two seasons and with a record of 38-29 after player mistreatment allegations surfaced.
“I am not one to just move on,” Wojcik admitted. “But, that whole thing made me retreat and really circle the wagons. I pretty much dedicated myself to my wife, kids and my dog.”
After settling the remaining years of his contract, Wojcik actually found himself “relieved” to be away from the game that he played, coached and loves.
Then long-time friend Mark Few, who is the head coach at Gonzaga,
Wojcik actually got his appetite for coaching back after spending one season as a special assistant to Gonzaga head coach Mark Few in 2015-16.
“Mark and I had been friends for many years when our kids were young and he offered me that opportunity and it really got the fire going again for me,” Wojcik said.
Because of his family, Wojcik ultimately decided that he was better served getting back to the east coast.
Wojcik’s family will remain in Charleston, S.C., which is less than five hours from East Carolina’s campus. His son, Denham, is a freshman at Porter Gaud School. He actually played varsity basketball as an eighth grader and helped the team win a South Carolina state championship.
His oldest son, Paxson is a junior and attends La Lumiere, which won the mythical national championship last season by virtue of their victory in the Dick’s Sporting Goods national tournament.
“I definitely received a different perspective on things from sitting in the stands with the parents,” Wojcik admitted. “It was really interesting for me. I told my boys I didn’t want to coach them, so I serve as more of a consultant and we made an agreement to talk about only one issue with the game. It worked out really well.”