Photo Credit: Charlotte Observer
Charlotte 49ers Director of Athletics Mike Hill announced yesterday that interim head coach Aaron Fearne will coach the program throughout the 2023-24 season, Charlotte’s first year in the American Athletic Conference (AAC). Fearne was promoted to the Associate Head Coach position under Ron Sanchez in July 2022, and has been on the staff at Charlotte since Sanchez’s first year.
Prior to his time at Charlotte, Fearne coached in Australia, including the NBL and QBL. In 2015 he was named the NBL Coach of the Year. You can read more on his coaching background here –> Charlotte 49ers bio.
One piece I’d like to point out is that due to Fearne’s pro experience, I fully expect his team to play with more pace than Ron’s (but almost all do). Fans have long lamented the lack of focus on pursuing offensive rebounds. That will absolutely change, Fearne has a unique approach/system to offensive rebounding called “tagging up”. You can learn about that here. Fearne’s system is well-regarded to the point where he consults with NBA teams. The fan in me is exited to see Charlotte attack the glass, and I’m sure the rest of Niner Nation will be grateful for that as well.
In the end, Aaron Fearne gets a one year audition to showcase his abilities as the lead man stateside. If it clicks and he’s retained, it’ll be a phenomenal story. If not, Charlotte will reboot its coaching search, but with the due diligence and interviews that took place this time around, they won’t be starting from scratch.
Search firm nugget
Charlotte hired College Sports Associates to help with the search (unsure of the amount just yet). Half the fee was due up front, and the other half will be due after this season is compete and a deal for a permanent head coach is finalized.
My thoughts on Sanchez stepping down
I haven’t really commented much on Ron Sanchez’s exit, and I won’t pretend to know the inner workings that ultimately led to him doing so and reuniting with Tony Bennett and UVA. We heard Mike Hill praise Ron and the programs growth this year, ending with a CBI championship. This was followed by the departure of Charlotte’s top 2 players, and had Charlotte moving into the AAC down key pieces, while stepping up in the level of competition.
Ron Sanchez had 3 seasons remaining on his agreement (thanks to two separate extensions on his initial contract), and historically this was seen as the “extend or fire” time for a coach. Even more so in my opinion for a coach that has had 5 years to right the program and eliminate any questions about his abilities. Following the season, with the praise received publicly, I have to believe that Sanchez was expecting for an extension based on his success. Clearly that didn’t happen, and with UVA having an open spot due to Kyle Getter leaving for Notre Dame, he opted to head back to Charlottesville.
There isn’t many ways to take this in my opinion; either he felt like he couldn’t meet the expectations laid out for next year by Mike Hill and he left before tarnishing his coaching future, or he was upset about the lack of extension and left for a comfortable landing spot.
This quote from Ron comes to mind right now, “you have to be comfortable with the uncomfortable.” Any way you break this down, Ron left his players, staff and the program in a unfavorable spot.