By PAUL BOGGS
JACKSON — Apparently, the interim tag to Bob Kight’s name was removed almost as quickly as it was applied.
That’s because Kight, at Tuesday night’s regular monthly meeting of the Jackson City Schools Board of Education, was hired as the new varsity head coach of the Jackson High School boys basketball team.
Kight, the Jackson High School Athletic Director, was named the interim head coach of the Ironmen by Jackson City Schools Superintendent Phil Howard on June 30.
Howard hoped to officially name a new coach at the regular monthly meeting on Tuesday.
As it turned out, all Howard had to do was remove that interim title next to Kight’s name.
“A committee comprised of myself, Bob Kight, two board members and two representatives from the Roundball Club met for nearly three hours and reviewed the credentials of all of the candidates. After discussing the strengths of those who had expressed interest, it was determined that none of the candidates met the criteria for what we were looking for as our next head coach. Mr. Kight, who was not really a candidate for the position on a permanent basis, said that he would be willing to do the job,” said Howard. “After a lengthy discussion regarding his philosophy, the committee agreed that Bob was the best person for the job at this time.”
Kight said he will remain as the district’s athletic director — the position he has held since the spring of 2008.
“It’s all about the kids,” Kight told media members following Tuesday’s meeting. “If you look at the number of seniors we lost last year and the number of kids we have coming back, we need to get kids out for basketball that haven’t played. We need to keep the kids in the program which we already have, and we need to add to that. Especially in our senior class. There are some seniors that have played for us in the past, and we’re going to go after them.”
The district began its new — and latest — boys basketball coaching search four weeks ago when the position was posted internally for five days, beginning June 18.
Heath McKinniss — the JHS boys basketball coach of the past two seasons — had resigned that position, effective June 30.
McKinniss’ resignation letter to Howard was actually dated on June 14, and offered no reason for the resignation in its entire three-sentence paragraph:
“I regret to inform you that I wish to resign my position as the Jackson High School Varsity Boys Basketball Coach, effective June 30, 2012. I will fulfill my duties as head coach through that date. Thank you for the opportunity to serve the Jackson City Schools in this capacity.”
On Tuesday, Kight was hired by the Board of Education in a unanimous vote for a one-year coaching contract — but after Howard’s recommendation for a two-year contract was voted down 3-2.
On the two-year contract, Board members Virgil Hamilton and Travis Hughes voted “yes” while Ancil Cross, Randy Evans and Alyce Smith voted “no”.
Cross, Smith and Evans all stated that they opposed the two-year deal due to the length of the contract.
Regularly, supplemental contracts in the Jackson City School District are one-year agreements.
Howard then recommended Kight be hired on a one-year contract, which was quickly motioned by Smith, seconded by Cross and consequently carried by a 5-0 vote.
Kight is a 1967 graduate of JHS, and had served as an assistant coach — off-and-on — to four Ironmen mentors from the mid-1970s through the mid-1990s.
After assisting the legendary Jim Osborne at Gallia Academy in the 1973-74 and 1974-75 seasons, Kight came back to Jackson and assisted Al Burger until Burger’s final season in 1979-80.
He then joined Jeff Hodson’s staff for two years, before later assisting Tony Bornhorst for two years and Greg Potter for one.
Now, as a head coach for the first time, Kight explained his goals for the program.
“We want a well-respected program. We want kids playing for us that are going to hustle,” he said. “As any coach would tell you, winning would be nice and winning will be emphasized. But quality of play and hustling…if you can’t do anything else. If you can’t jump, rebound, shoot or handle the ball, you can always play defense and hustle. We’re going to find kids that can do that.”
The Ironmen are undergoing another youth movement, having graduated seven seniors from last season’s 9-13 team, including third-team Division II all-Ohio Associated Press selection Colt Chapman.
Chapman — the six-foot, five-inch senior standout — averaged 21.5 points per game, and was the only player — both boys or girls — representing Jackson or Vinton counties to capture at least third-team honors.
He paced Jackson in points per game average, as well as rebounds per game (10.4), and dished out two assists along with making off with 2.6 steals.