NORFOLK, VA (WTKR)- On February 5, 2013, Blaine Taylor was terminated as Old Dominion's head basketball coach. A little more than nine years later, he was welcomed back as a Monarch in the same room in which his firing was announced.
Taylor is returning to ODU as a fundraiser for the Old Dominion Athletic Foundation. He returns to Norfolk "ever vigilant and ever grateful" after battling alcohol abuse.
"I was fired, for good reason, and it maybe saved my life," Taylor said during a press conference announcing his return on Thursday at Chartway Arena.
The former head coach would seek and receive treatment for his alcoholism following his termination and has worked hard for his second chance. He's been sober for more than nine years and has rebuilt himself, so much so that Monarch Director of Athletics Dr. Wood Selig suggested that he join the school's athletic foundation in a fundraising role.
"When I hit that dark spot, life was coming at me really hard, but there have been other times when I've been able to come at life pretty strong," Taylor recalled. "Somehow, some way, Old Dominion was open-minded enough to think about having me come back? Wow, there is a God."
In his new role as a major gifts officer, Taylor will help raise money for ODU Athletics expansion projects, scholarships and program enhancement funding for all of the Monarchs' athletic programs. It's a move that the administration feels is mutually beneficial.
"We need the best team we can possibly assemble to propel ODU Athletics forward," Selig noted. "Blaine Taylor makes ODU Athletics better."
"He's a big personality and he's fun to be around and I know that's going to pay off with our donors and our fans," added Jena Virga, Executive Director of the Old Dominion Athletics Foundation.
During his coaching tenure at the head of the Monarch bench, Taylor experienced plenty of success. His 239 wins are the most victories in program history and he led the silver and blue to four NCAA Tournaments. After taking some time off to focus on his sobriety and doing some television commentating, Taylor returned to coaching as an assistant coach at UC Irvine from 2016-2020.