Boys Basketball

Gibson’s resignation leaves O’Fallon a short search for new coach

Rick Gibson resigned Tuesday as head basketball coach at O’Fallon High School. The District 203 administration already has posted the vacancy on its web site.
Rick Gibson resigned Tuesday as head basketball coach at O’Fallon High School. The District 203 administration already has posted the vacancy on its web site. BND File

Rick Gibson’s sudden resignation as boys head basketball coach at O’Fallon High School doesn’t leave the school’s administration much time to find a replacement.

Practices generally begins upon the conclusion of football season, which would be Oct. 21 if the 1-1 Panthers fail to reach the playoffs. The first basketball game is in the third week of November.

Gibson submitted his resignation as coach Tuesday, citing responsibilities to his wife and five children as the reason.

The 42-year-old coach also is contending with the repercussions of a misdemeanor charge of driving under the influence of alcohol. Gibson was stopped Aug. 12 after allegedly backing into another vehicle while leaving Shooter’s Bar and BBQ. He failed field sobriety tests, twice refused breathalyzer tests, and was subsequently arrested by O’Fallon police. According to Illinois law, refusing a breathalyzer automatically leads to the suspension of a driver’s license for six months to a year.

Gibson will answer the charges in a St. Clair County circuit court Sept. 15. The O’Fallon District 203 School Board likely will formally accept his resignation during its regular meeting a week later, on Sept. 22.

In the meantime, O’Fallon’s search for a court-side replacement has already begun with the posting of the head coaching vacancy on the district web site, which feeds other external job posting sites.

“Given the condensed period of time we have to work with relative to the start of the basketball season, it’s in the school’s best interest to begin moving on the process,” said OTHS principal Rich Bickel. “Obviously, whenever it comes to a key position that affects students, the sooner we get somebody hired the better.”

The job posting can be found here.

Whether the administration prefers to promote a coach from within the program or consider outside applicants is not a factor, Bickel said.

O’Fallon Athletic Director Todd Moeller said applications have been received, but Bickel said he could not confirm if any interviews have been conducted.

“The posting is out there and available for all to see and anybody is welcome to apply,” he said, adding that the district also has an job posting for a staff adviser to S.A.D.D. — Students Against Destructive Decisions. “We’ll make a decision based on what we think is in the best interest of the students.”

According to district’s contract with the O’Fallon Federation of Teachers, a first-year head boys basketball coach is paid $5,519. Compensation increases annually to a cap of $7,096 by the coach’s fifth season. That contract expires following the 2017-18 school year.

Among possible candidates to replace Gibson are O’Fallon assistant coaches Brian Muniz — brother of Belleville West head coach Joe Muniz — and Brad Copelin.

With a record of 8-19, the team experienced just its third losing season under Gibson in 2015-16.The Panthers were eliminated from a strong East St. Louis Regional tournament field with a first-round loss to Belleville West.

But O’Fallon will return plenty of experience this fall with Ryan Fulton, Deion Norfleet, Alex Orr and Jarvus Smith back in a Panther uniform for their seniors seasons.

Gibson took over for Kevin Kellerman in 2005 and has compiled a 209-121 record in 11 seasons. He twice led the Panthers to the Illinois State Tournament, finishing second in Class AA in 2007 and fourth in Class 4A in 2010. He’ll continue with the district as a computer programming and business teacher.

Todd Eschman: 618-239-2540, @tceschman