Director of Athletics Whit Babcock announced Tuesday that Virginia Tech and head football coach Justin Fuente have mutually agreed to part ways. Babcock indicated that a national search is underway to fill the position. J.C. Price will serve as interim head coach for the remainder of the 2021 season.
In his parting statement, Fuente said, “On behalf of Jenny and our family, I would like to thank President Sands, Whit, and the entire Virginia Tech community for extending me the opportunity to lead this football program for six seasons.
“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,” Fuente 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.
Fuente went on to say, “To all the donors who have recently stepped up to make substantial contributions to Virginia Tech Football, please know the importance of your commitment. So many improvements have been made to point our facilities and overall student-athlete experience in the right direction. Thank you to the fans of Hokie Nation. I would encourage all of you to continue cheering on this football team. Your support means so much to all of them.
“Finally,” Fuente said, “to Jenny, Cecilia, Caroline, Charlotte and the rest of our family, thank you for your unwavering love and support. We have all been in this together and we will continue to be in this together on the next step of our journey.
“We leave Blacksburg with many great memories, but above all else, our family cherishes the many relationships that have been established and that will always endure. To all of those players, coaches and staff who are still fighting on, know that the Fuente family is always cheering for you.”
“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,” Babcock said. “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 one of the most attractive football jobs in America, competing in one of the nation’s premier conferences, the ACC,” Babcock said. “I’m extremely confident that we’ll be able to identify and hire a new head coach who can build on our rich history and winning tradition.”
“I have full confidence in Whit’s leadership and appreciate his commitment to keep the best interest of the players and the program at the forefront,” Virginia Tech President Dr. Tim Sands said. “Together, we stand in support of our student-athletes as they prepare to complete the season at this challenging time.”
Fuente compiled a 43-31 record in six seasons at Tech. The Tulsa, Okla., native owns a 69-54 career record during 10 seasons as an FBS head coach. Prior to joining the Hokies he guided Memphis to a 26-23 ledger in four seasons.
Interim head coach J.C. Price was a team captain and third-team All-America selection for the Hokies as a senior in 1995. He was a four-year starter on Virginia Tech’s 1995 Big East Championship team and previously served as the strength coach for the Hokies in 1997-98. He returned to Blacksburg in 2021 after spending the previous nine seasons at Marshall University where he most recently served as the Thundering Herds’ co-defensive coordinator and defensive line coach.
Upon Price’s arrival, Fuente said, ““First and foremost, we’re excited to welcome J.C. and his family back to Blacksburg. J.C. played an integral role in establishing Tech’s winning tradition and helping the Hokies earn a place on the national stage. We’re not only adding a coach who owns nearly two decades of coaching experience, but J.C. also brings another talented recruiter to our ranks.”
In 2015, Price was named the Conference USA Recruiter of the Year by Scout.com for his contribution to the Thundering Herd’s 2016 recruiting class. He was part of seven Marshall squads that earned bowl berths, the 2014 Conference USA championship, and three C-USA East Division titles.
Marshall led the nation in scoring defense (13 points per game) in 2020 while ranking second in total defense (279.4 yards per game), fourth in rushing defense (95.5 yards per game) and 11th in pass defense (183.9 yards per game ) en route to a berth in the Conference USA championship game.
Marshall’s 2015 squad went 10-3 and finished the season with a St. Petersburg Bowl win as the defense totaled 30 sacks and 101 quarterback hurries. Price helped develop defensive tackle Jarquez Samuel into an All-Conference USA second-team selection.
The Herd won the 2014 Conference USA title, finishing the season with a 13-1 record with their only setback coming in a 67-66 overtime loss to Western Kentucky. Marshall’s defense racked up 38 sacks that season to tie for 16th among FBS squads.
With Price coaching Marshall’s defensive tackles, the Herd went 10-4 in 2013 and reached the Conference USA Championship Game.
Price joined Marshall after an eight-season stint at James Madison University (2004-11). The Dukes won the 2004 FCS national championship and made the FCS playoffs on four other occasions during his tenure.