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Grant County High School is looking for a new basketball coach after Jim Hicks is moving back to Eastern Kentucky after this school year.
Hicks came to Grant County in 2010 and amassed a 48-42 record in three seasons as the boys head basketball coach.
Hicks said his decision to leave is what he believes to be in the best interest of him and his family.
“Former superintendent Mike Hibbett brought me in three years ago and he made it clear that he wanted the basketball program to be important. He gave me a lot of resources and made it important.
There was a change and Mike Hibbett left. I am leaving Grant County because I want to,” Hicks said.
Hicks said he felt that he was not given support from the school or district’s administration.
“I was not asked to leave, but I was not encouraged in any way to stay either,” he said.
A claim Grant County Superintendent Ron Livingood disputes.
“Coach Hicks was not asked to leave. We wanted him to stay because of his commitment to the basketball program. We did expect him to focus first on academics ,” Livingood said.
The search for Hick’s replacement has been started. According to Grant County High School Principal Claudette Herald, Hicks has resigned as the basketball coach, but not from his teaching position. She said he had indicated that he would do so once his contract was over and the school year had ended.
Hicks currently works as one of two of the districts credit recovery instructors.
Herald said his position has been posted and she anticipated putting a committee together composed of herself, Athletic Director Steve Thompson, a parent from the school’s SBDM council and two basketball parents or members of the boosters club.
“We’ve already received several applications. We’ll meet this week and review them and decide which candidates we are going to bring in for an interview,” she said.
Hicks said that he believes he is leaving the program in good shape.
“We worked really hard the last three years and we gave something to be proud of,” Hicks said.
Hicks credited support from parents and boosters as another reason for the basketball team was successful.
“I love my players and my coaching staff and I had a great booster club. The parents have also been very supportive, which meant a lot to me,” Hicks said.
Bobby Burgess, a member of the GCHS booster club for more than 20 years, said he’s sorry that Hicks is leaving.
“I’m really hurt, not only I but the kids, parents and even people in the community,” Burgess said. “I don’t think he got a fair shake to stay here, even though he had a job with the school district.”
Hicks will be moving to Pikeville and has accepted a coaching job at Shelby Valley High School, which has won seven regional titles in the last 15 years, as well as a state championship in 2010.
“I just hope the players here at Grant County continue to work hard and play together as a team because that is why we won,” Hicks said. “I have always talked to them about priorities with God being number one, family number two, school number three and basketball number four.”
Hicks led the Grant County Braves to a 6-0 record in regular season district play, for the first time in the school’s history.
“We were fifth in the state in team defense allowing only 47 points per game,” he said. “Even though we lost in the championship game of the district on a last second shot in overtime, I was so proud of the effort and intensity that my team played with. I have never had a team play that hard.”
Hicks, who often paced the sidelines and yelled during games, said that was a sign of his passion for basketball.
“Basketball has and always will be a big part of my life. Sports in general should be important to a school system and to a community,” Hicks said.