West Virginia coach Neal Brown is reportedly expected to return in the 2023 season as the school seeks new AD

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West Virginia coach Neal Brown is expected to return as football coach in 2023, according to multiple reports, as the Mountaineers go through an athletic director change. WVU is hiring North Texas athletic director Wren Baker in the same position on Wednesday.

Brown put together a disappointing 5-7 campaign as the program will miss a bowl game appearance for the second time in four seasons. Before Brown, the Mountaineers had missed just one bowl game since 2002 — and that 4-8 season came as West Virginia transitioned from the Big East to the Big 12. In four seasons, Brown has a 22-25 record at Morgantown with his only winning season coming during the 2020 campaign curtailed by the pandemic.

Brown received a lifeline after West Virginia decided to step down from athletic director Shane Lyons after seven years as head of athletics. Lyons signed Brown to a two-year contract extension after an 11-11 start to his career, and language in the deal says Brown owes the remainder of his salary over the course of the contract if he is fired before January 1, 2025. per 247Sports. If West Virginia fired him on January 1, 2023, it would owe Brown approximately $16.7 million.

A rising star in athletic director circles, Baker comes to West Virginia after seven successful years in North Texas as athletic director. He is a highly successful fundraiser who has helped rejuvenate North Texas facilities and has set new fundraising records each year during his tenure. Baker previously held key positions in Missouri and Memphis.

While Baker did not hire Seth Littrell as his football coach, he oversaw Mean Green’s trips to five different bowls and two Conference USA championship games. Baker also hired Grant McCasland as the basketball coach who led Mean Green to their first March Madness win in program history with a win over Purdue in 2021. Perhaps most importantly, Baker helped North Texas join the American Athletic Conference for the 2023 season.

Brown’s rating will be Baker’s top priority in his first season at Morgantown. However, a close runner-up will be preparing for life after Hall of Famer Bob Huggins retires as a basketball coach. Fundraising for both the West Virginia athletic department and NIL collectives will also be extremely important as the Mountaineers seek to attend a new Big 12 conference.

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