NORFOLK, Va. (Release via ODU Athletics)– Blaine Taylor, the winningest men’s basketball coach in Old Dominion history, is returning to ODU as a fundraiser for the Old Dominion Athletic Foundation. Taylor will begin work as an athletic development officer for major gifts on June 10, Jena Virga, executive director of ODAF, announced Thursday morning.
As a major gifts officer, he will focus on capital projects such as the renovation of ODU’s baseball stadium and a football locker room expansion in the L.R. Hill Sports Complex. He will also help raise money for scholarships and program enhancement funding in all sports.
Taylor said he does not desire to coach again.
“I’m content that I coached a long time and had a nice career that I can be proud of,” he said. “But it’s time to do what I had always intended to do when I was in college and that’s work in athletic administration.
“I can’t wait to get started, to return to a university that I love.”
Taylor was dismissed from ODU on Feb. 5, 2013, by Athletic Director Dr. Wood Selig. After receiving treatment for alcohol abuse, he later returned to coaching as an assistant at UC Irvine for four years, from 2016 through 2020, before leaving to have ankle and knee replacement surgery.
Taylor has been sober for more than nine years.
“He has worked extremely hard for most of the last decade to get his life back on track and maintain that course,” Dr. Selig said.
“I believe the Hampton Roads community will be very forgiving of Blaine. He paid a huge price personally and professionally for his substance abuse. It ended his career as a head coach. He’s earned this chance to return and contribute.
“The United States is a country of second chances. That’s part of our fabric. That’s who we are.”
Basketball coach Jeff Jones said, “I’m really excited to have Blaine join the ODAF team. He’s been a friend for a long time, and I have no doubt that he will do a great job not just for men’s basketball but raising money for the entire athletic department.”
Taylor was a prolific fundraiser during his 12 seasons at ODU, where he won 239 games and took the Monarchs to four NCAA Tournaments and the semifinals of the NIT.
He helped raise $7 million of the $8.4 million needed to build the Mitchum Basketball Performance Center and also helped endow 13 men’s basketball scholarships.
“His success in fundraising is the major reason we’re hiring him,” Virga said. “We’re not doing this because we like Blaine, although we do. We’re doing this because we believe he’s going to be a dynamic fundraiser.
“When he was here, he started the Big Blue Barbecue, he started the golf tournament, he started the Meet the Monarchs dinner. And he raised a lot of money from those events.
“A lot of intercollegiate fundraising organizations bring back former coaches and players. They’re very good at telling the story of why we need support.
“Blaine has all the qualities you look for in a fundraiser. He’s genuine, passionate, and engaging and he’s a team player. He loves ODU and is so grateful to be able to return to the school and community he loves.”
Virga said that when Taylor came to Norfolk for an interview that he and the entire ODAF staff hit it off.
“The chemistry with our team when he met them was immediate,” she said. “He knew all about them. He had done his homework.
“Blaine has such a big personality. He’s really fun to be around. I think that’s part of being a good fundraiser.”
Taylor said he doesn’t want to be pigeonholed as a basketball fundraiser.
“Even though I have a basketball background, I’ve been at four different institutions and had great friendships with football coaches and women’s basketball coaches,” he said. “I see myself as a team player doing whatever they want me to do at the foundation.
“I don’t have an agenda. I don’t want anyone else’s job. I just want to help. I care so much about Old Dominion and the people there. I can’t wait to get started.”
Baseball coach Chris Finwood, who was close with Taylor when he coached at ODU, said it was “just awesome news” when he heard ODAF was hiring Taylor.
“He’s going to do a great job,” he said. “He’s such an engaging guy.
“The people around Norfolk, around Virginia Beach, around ODU, they love him.
“And he’s such a great success story, given all that he went through and how he turned his life around.
“His story is going to resonate with people.”