Long-time friends Foster, Wade reunited at UTC
CHATTANOOGA (WRCB) -- Will Wade certainly has a huge learning curve ahead as the third-youngest head coach in the country.
However, the new University of Tennessee at Chattanooga men's basketball coach has a secret weapon in the Scenic City: new Lady Mocs' coach Jim Foster.
Turns out UTC's two new hires have quite a history dating back to Foster's days at Vanderbilt.
"It's like the circle of life, being back here with Coach Foster," Wade said with a big smile. "I talked to him for about 45 minutes the other day before taking the job, and it was just wonderful to catch up with him.
"I was already pretty sold on Chattanooga before hearing from him, but having him here is just icing on the cake."
Wade, a Nashville native with a variety of family connections to the school, was a frequent visitor at Vandy games and practices while growing up, studying not only Foster, but also former Commodore football coach Gerry DiNardo.
One of the best stories to surface at Wade's introduction on campus Tuesday was that he used wear a headset around the house and make his brother follow behind him and carry the wires, much like DiNardo used to do with support staffers.
While he won't be following Foster up and down the sidelines during Lady Mocs' games, the now 30-year-old Wade plans to make the most of having the Hall of Fame coach just a few doors down from his office at McKenzie Arena.
"He is going to be a tremendous resource for me while I'm here," Wade said. "I can't wait to speak with him and catch up more with him."
What seems like a planned package deal actually came as quite a surprise to new UTC athletic director David Blackburn.
He said he didn't know of the connection until Foster mentioned it a few days before Wade was hired.
"I was shocked when he told me that. I didn't believe it," Blackburn laughed. "Sure enough, they've talked several times already."
Blackburn said he felt throughout the process that Wade was the perfect fit for the Mocs, now he feels even more confident that he made the right hires for both programs.
"Frankly, that's a great situation," Blackburn said. "With Will being a first-time head coach, he can get in the hip pocket of a guy like Jim Foster when he needs advice on certain things, and obviously we all eventually need help on certain things.
"As it turns out, it just looks like a really healthy situation for all of us."