COVINGTON -- The Eastside boys basketball team will have new leadership next season with the recent resignation of Michael Gerald after seven years as Eagles coach.
After a disappointing 8-17 season, his sixth losing season as Eastside's coach, Gerald turned in his resignation but was not asked to give up the position, said Bruce McColumn, Eastside's athletic director.
"It wasn't forced," McColumn said. "Coach Gerald came to (Eastside Principal Dennis) Roddenberry and said that he felt he had done all he could do and he felt it was time for him to step aside. He brought in a letter of resignation, and like I said, no one forced him to do anything. It was his decision.
"I was surprised because of the fact that his son plays on the basketball team. It took us by surprise but after talking to him, I understand where he's coming from and I understand why he made the decision."
"I felt like maybe they wanted to do things differently," Gerald said Wednesday night. "I felt like I did all I could under the circumstances. I wanted to stick around, but I felt like maybe I've gone as far as I could go at this time. I still want to coach. I'm looking forward to some new challenges. I'm thankful for the opportunities I had at Eastside."
Eastside's only winning campaign came in Gerald's inaugural season, when the Eagles compiled a 16-11 record. Over the past seven years, Eastside's program won 41 percent of their games, going 70-104. Eastside went 5-11 in Region 4-AAA play this year.
"I think that shows integrity for wanting what's better for the kids and keeping himself out of the way," McColumn said. "I think that's very critical. For our kids, we have to want what's best for them so they could move to another level."
It's been less than a week since the open position was advertised on gaprepcounty.com and McColumn has received more than 30 resumes from as far away as California and Michigan. He hopes that the number he receives will exceed 60.
While getting the right coach is important, the challenge for McColumn is finding the best candidate with the proper teaching credential.
"The thing with this position is that we're limited with the budget to the teaching positions we have," he said. "I have applicants that have never taught, but have coached on a college level. Even though I advertised it as an anticipated teaching position for possibly special (education), 90 percent of them were PE-certified people that I wouldn't be able to fill (the job) based on our current standings with our teachers now.
"It's almost like a needle in a haystack. But I will find that diamond in the rough. It will come."
McColumn added he's looking for an individual that not only has a passion for basketball, but also wants to see student-athletes excel on and off the court. He said he is hoping that the new coach will implement a program where the players' education takes priority by implementing study sessions before practice. This person is also going to have to be able to communicate concerns with parents.
"But most of all, someone that has that school spirit who is not in it totally for self but that are in it for the kids," said McColumn. "I want this coach to come in and start a fire in the basketball program and make it so exciting that everyone will want to come to Eastside to play basketball.
"When you have a program like that, you tend to get those good athletes that want to come and be a part of something good. On the other hand, if they feel you have a weak program they'll do whatever it takes to be eligible someplace else."
McColumn also considers this a big hire in his short tenure as Eastside's AD.
"This whole process is a tedious task," he said. "This is a big task for me as a first-year (athletic director) at this school, it has to be a hit. I want a home run on this. I don't know if that's going to happen, but that's my intention."
McColumn said Eastside also needs a coach willing to help coach and support other sports like Gerald did.
"Coach Gerald has been a permanent fixture to our school for the last eight or nine years," McColumn said. "He not only coached basketball, he's helped out with other sports, too. We will miss that because at one time I anticipated mandating that the new coach concentrate on varsity basketball only and not coach any other sport.
"But with today's budget cuts, we need for the other coaches to come in and assist in some magnitude with other sports. From my understanding, before I got here, Coach Gerald did that."
"We had some conversations and I felt like it was time," Gerald said. "I would have loved to stick around one more year to coach my son, but it's bigger than that. Sometimes you know when it's time to give someone else the opportunity. Hopefully I'll be back in it and I look forward to the future. I wish nothing but the best for the program."