Leaked audio shows Willie Fritz left GS on issue of ‘job security’

Fritz was the head coach of Sam Houston State’s football team for three years before taking the head coaching job here at GS in 2014. Fritz left to take the head coaching position at Tulane University at the end of 2015.

Thomas Jilk

Update: According to the Savannah Morning News, Tom Kleinlein did offer a contract extension to Willie Fritz after the Eagles’ victory over South Alabama in the 2015 season. The contract included an increase in salary from $500,000 to $700,000 and it would have been four years. 

The contract would have begun July 1,2016 and extended until June 30, 2020, with an option stating that if Fritz won seven or more games, he would receive an additional one-year extension, according to Savannah Morning News.

A week before Georgia Southern played and won its first ever bowl game, head coach Willie Fritz told his team in a players’ meeting that he would be taking the Tulane job because he didn’t feel he had “job security” despite leading one of the most successful FCS-to-FBS transitions in college football history.

Leaked audio, first reported by Nick Burgess of Forgotten 5, suggests that Fritz was frustrated by the fact that despite leading Georgia Southern to a 17-7 record in its first two seasons at the highest level of college football, he never had the job security he had hoped for. The audio recording was dated in the file name as December 16, 2015.

In a tweet Monday around 4 p.m., Savannah Morning News reporter Nathan Deen said he had spoken with GS athletic director Tom Kleinlein, who claimed to have offered Fritz a contract after the 2015 South Alabama game.

Fritz declined to comment for this story through a Tulane spokesperson.

“They told me when I proved myself, that I would be given job security,” Fritz said in the audio. “That wasn’t the case. In this stage of my career, job security is really, really important to me.”

Fritz, 55 at the time, added that his future retirement played a role in his decision to leave Statesboro. He believed that a Sun Belt title and a bowl appearance would have earned him the job security he wanted prior to retiring.

“I thought the last couple years I deserved more than that,” Fritz said.

After Georgia Southern had required a 7-win threshold from Fritz in order even to review his situation as head coach, Tulane offered him a six-year contract that he could not refuse, factoring in his family and his own need for job security.

“There was a lot of thought put into this,” he said.

Fritz told his players he had recommended the promotion of Dell McGee, former GS running backs coach and interim head coach for the 58-27 shellacking of Bowling Green in the GoDaddy Bowl, to become the next head coach.

“I’ve gone ahead and made my recommendation, it won’t mean s— now I’m sure,” Fritz said.

This indicates the degree to which Fritz may have believed he was valued by athletic decision-makers at GS.

McGee was hired last season as running backs coach at the University of Georgia, where he’s since developed stars like Nick Chubb and Sony Michel.

Meanwhile, Georgia Southern has lost seven of its last eight games and is 0-3 in 2017 so far. 

Jozsef Papp contributed to this report.