FGCU players shocked by Enfield’s exit

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Florida Gulf Coast coach Andy Enfield holds up the net after his team defeated Mercer in an NCAA college basketball game for the Atlantic Sun men’s tournament championship, in Macon, Ga., Saturday, March 9, 2013. Florida Gulf Coast won 88-75. (AP Photo/Woody Marshall)

Less than 72 hours after its historic run to the Sweet Sixteen, men’s basketball head coach Andy Enfield is packing his bags for California. The news reached the team late Monday evening after early speculation surfaced on social media. Players were called into a team meeting where Enfield announced he would be taking the head-coaching job at the University of Southern California.
“We’re just in shock, I didn’t see it coming,” Junior Chase Fieler said. “Obviously with the circumstances of the contract and everything that he got offered, he couldn’t turn that down for his career and his family. I understand his decision but it’s still hard to hear.”
Bernard Thompson and Bret Comer were among the first to be recruited under Enfield and expressed their disbelief Tuesday morning.
“He was the foundation of everything,” sophomore guard Bernard Thompson said. “What we built on and how he raised us to better men for the community as well as on the court. It’s bittersweet to see someone that you truly care about leave.”
Enfield’s departure also raises uncertainty about the futures of current players as well as recruits. Many players commented that they will wait until a head coach is named before they make any decisions about transferring.
FGCU recruits will also wait to see who is named Eagles head coach before making any decisions. Jordan Neff and Logan Hovey were recruited early last fall, and FGCU athletics director Ken Kavanagh expressed their commitment to the men’s basketball program.
“To me, your word is your word,” Kavanagh said. “A commitment to me has always been, you come for at least a year, and you give it your best. If at the end of the year it didn’t work out, I would provide a release. I think it’s a fair way to do it.”
As far as current players are concerned, no definite plans have been made and uncertainty will still linger in the air until a new head coach is named.
“I don’t know who they’re bringing in as the new head coach, but I still have the thought of transferring in the back of my head,” Thompson said. “But if it does happen, I’ll try to take care of it the best way I can.”
Fieler was quick to keep their feet planted with the men’s basketball program.
“Oh I’m definitely staying. I’m not going anywhere. I think a lot of the guys have the same mentality. We’re here together,” Fieler said. “We love this school, we love the community. I’m staying for sure and there’s no questions about it, I’m not leaving.”
The Eagles have experienced an influx of emotions during the last three weeks, with a Sweet Sixteen high and now a low with
Associated Press photo
Andy Enfield celebrates with the team after their victory over San Diego State in the NCAA Tournament.
Enfield’s departure. Sophomore guard Brett Comer is concerned FGCU’s legacy will not move past Enfield’s retreat.
“We understand what we’ve done but everyone else now sees it as we don’t have a coach anymore and he just left for USC,” Comer said.
But make no mistake about FGCU’s legacy. The Eagles this year not only made school history
but NCAA tournament history, becoming the first 15 seeded team to make it to the sweet sixteen. After the team’s historic win against No. 2 Georgetown, the Eagles took the country by storm, becoming the most popular school of the NCAA tournament. A win against 8 seeded San Diego State pushed the team even more into the spotlight, an unprecedented run that will never be forgotten.
“He did something that has never been done in history, he took a 15 seed to the Sweet Sixteen,” Fieler said. “This legacy of the NCAA tournament where they’re going to show what we did every year when they start talking about the tournament. He started the program here.”