Archive for Thursday, May 25, 2006

Search narrows for LHS basketball coach

May 25, 2006

Lansing High School's search for a new boys basketball coach appears to be finished.

The top candidate to fill the position is former Liberal High School coach Rod Briggs. According to numerous reports, Briggs has been introduced around town as the new basketball coach. A flier distributed within the school district has also named him as the handler of registration and payment information for the Lansing boys basketball summer camp at LHS.

Briggs' hiring won't be official unless the Lansing School Board gives its approval at its June 12 meeting. Until then, Lansing school administrators aren't talking. LHS activities director Gary Mattingly refused to comment on the position. LHS principal Steve Dike also said he could not comment.

"My official position has to be we don't have a basketball coach until I hear something (from the board)," Dike said.

Lansing Schools Superintendent Randal Bagby echoed Dike's comments, saying "officially and legally I can't confirm anything."

Bagby said he did not have the authority to offer a contract without school board approval.

"The board does all the hiring," Bagby said. "We recommend, and nothing's official until the board approves it."

Bagby wouldn't comment on whether a recommendation was forthcoming. School Board President Brian Bode this week said he had heard there had been a recommendation made to Bagby, but he didn't know what the recommendation was.

Bagby said the first attribute administrators look for when filling a position is somebody who can teach. Because of that, he said LHS administrators would have the most say in recommending a candidate to the school board. At LHS, that likely would include Mattingly and Dike.

"Basically it's a typical process of evaluating credentials and experience, and then trying to get the most qualified people you can get," Bagby said.

Although no school administrators would confirm that Briggs was their choice to fill the position, Briggs apparently will be involved with the Lansing boys basketball camp this summer in the LHS gym.

Briggs' name appeared on a school-issued flier for the camp, which begins June 12. That's the same day Briggs is expected to be recommended to the board as the next LHS basketball coach to replace Don Allen, who resigned in April after nine years in the post. In the past, the camp has been run by the high school coaching staff, and the school-issued flier says as much this year. One version of the camp flier included Briggs' name and his e-mail address at Liberal. The school issued a new camp flier Monday in which Briggs' name and e-mail address had been removed.

Briggs resigned as coach at Liberal on March 7. His resignation as a social sciences teacher was accepted by USD 480 on Monday. His wife's resignation as a preschool teacher also was accepted.

Despite going 6-15 during his final season at Liberal, Briggs would bring an enticing resume to Lansing.

Specifically, he has proven he can build a program and turn it into a winner. He inherited a Liberal program that went 2-19 in 2002 and hadn't been to state since 1997. After Liberal posted a 6-16 record in 2003, he led the Redskins to a 15-8 record and appearance in the state tournament in 2004. In 2005, they went 17-5 and spent almost the entire season ranked No. 1 in the state.

Player development also was one of his strengths. One of his players, 2005 senior Antonio Hanson, averaged more than 17 points per game his last three years at Liberal. He gave an oral commitment to play basketball at Oklahoma State before eventually signing with Tulsa.


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