What started initially as a rally to convince VCU men’s basketball coach Shaka Smart to stay in Richmond was a farewell gathering in hindsight.
With rumors swirling around that Shaka Smart was potentially accepting a job offer at the University of Texas, fans organized a rally to show appreciation for the coach on Thursday evening outside the Siegel Center. Around 10:30 p.m. that night, news broke that Smart had accepted the offer.
There were more than 100 Ram fans who showed unified thankfulness for all Smart has done for the basketball program and university since being hired as head coach in 2009. The rally consisted of fans encouraging cars driving by to honk if they loved Smart and a variety of songs sung at games. Signs were passed out with the message #LoveForCoachSmart.
The crowd was a mix of students, older alumni and fans.
The rally was organized by VCURamnation.com. The website stated, “We have a limited amount of time to show Coach Smart how much he means to the city of Richmond, and this is our chance to have an impact on his final decision.”
Smart, 37, had been a hot commodity each offseason for nearly every coaching vacancy ever since he led the Rams to the 2011 Final Four. The annual drama of whether he would leave VCU has been called “ShakaWatch.”
William Slattum, a junior computer science major, emphasized the rally was to thank Smart and not to convince him to stay.
“It’s definitely not to beg him. He can do whatever he wants, he’s a grown man,” Slattum said. “He’ll figure out what he needs to do for his family and himself and whatever he does we’ll support him. We just want him to know how much he’s meant to us, this season and all the previous seasons. He’s awesome. We love him.”