BHS boys basketball coaches resign together
Less than a month after the season finished, all three Baldwin High School boys’ basketball coaches resigned from their sideline duties.
Head coach Eric Toot and assistants Chad Scoby and Jason Crowder made it official before USD 348’s spring break started two weeks ago. All three coaches had been with the program for at least five seasons.
“Professionally, it’s probably the hardest decision of my life,” Toot said. “In my heart, I just couldn't shake the feeling that it was the right decision. I felt how things were going, for me and the program, selfishly or unselfishly, however you look at it, I thought it was what’s best for the program.”
Leaving as a whole staff was the idea of Scoby and Crowder. Shortly after the season ended Feb. 28, the coaches discussed their future together.
“It was a decision that we made as a coaching staff,” Toot said. “I asked them to take some time and think about it. They are two of the most loyal guys that I’ve ever met. From this experience, they’ve become two of my best friends that I will have for the rest of my life. When I was talking to them the decision, they were pretty adamant, ‘if you go, we’re going, too.’ They’re not immune to what’s being said. They took it pretty hard, too. We felt like if we were going to leave, we were going to leave together.”
Crowder and Scoby weren’t going to stay if Toot left the program.
“My decision was made to support my head coach,” Crowder said. “When there are people wanting the head coach gone and you 100 percent believe it what you are doing as a staff, there is no reason to hang around and coach with someone else. The decision was also what was best for my family and me.”
Scoby agreed with Crowder.
“I support coach Toot 100 percent and believe he always did what was best for the Baldwin basketball program and the young men he had the chance to work with,” he said. “When his ability to effectively run the program got questioned, we all got questioned. It's high school basketball and we did our best to help young men become better people and have fun playing a great game. I'm proud of our time as the boys basketball coaches and I enjoyed working with coach Toot and coach Crowder.”
Some negativity surrounded the program after the varsity team finished 7-14 this season. That influenced Toot’s decision to resign after five years as the BHS coach. He became the fifth BHS boys’ coach to resign in 15 years, each with negativity from outside sources.
“This is nothing new,” Toot said. “When I took the job, I thought I was the guy that could change that. I really thought I had established myself as a coach in the community that even if we had a rough time, I could get through it and carry on. I’m not being forced out. This is my choice. But the negativity was affecting the program, me as a coach and most importantly, I think it was having an effect on the kids. I thought I was going to be here for 15 to 20 years, but I just can’t get past the emotions that I have in my heart.”
Toot admitted he hoped to turn the program around when he took over in 2006. The Bulldogs won only 13 games during the past two seasons and he took credit for their struggles.
“The biggest factor and probably my biggest disappointment is in my five years I had a vision for the program and the long term of where I thought we could go,” Toot said. “The last couple of years have been tough in the win-loss column. I couldn’t be more proud of our kids and how they played.
“Unfortunately, when you don’t take care of business in the win-loss column, it allows the negative people within our community to have a voice,” he said. “I just felt I was bringing a lot of negativity, whether it was deserved or not deserved, to our program. The kids don’t deserve that. I’m willing to step aside and let them hopefully reach their potential.”
Crowder shared the same sentiment about developing the high school students into better people and not being just about wins and losses.
“I just always thought that having passion for the game, doing everything in your power to be successful and teaching young men responsibility and character were enough in high school basketball,” he said. “Unfortunately, there are some in this community that do not feel the same way. Ultimately, for some, it is all about wins and losses.”
The BHS coaches informed their players before spring break. It was an emotional meeting.
“When we broke it to the kids, there were some tears,” Toot said. “They handled it the mature way. We got a lot of hugs and thank yous, which is hard for teenage boys to do during a tough time. I know it was genuine and sincere. As I told the kids, it has nothing to do with them as kids or players.”
Toot admitted he does regret leaving now, because of the talented freshman and sophomore classes. A pair of freshman and one sophomore started this season and several others will contribute minutes in the future. He also said how proud of the players he was and he will miss them.
“The thing I’m most proud of, especially the last two years, is I never saw our kids quit,” Toot said. “They could have easily checked it in going through six and seven win seasons. Instead, they came back to practice every day and continued to work hard, were respectful and played hard. What bothers me is for some people, that’s just not enough. It should be enough.
“The kids go out and represent the community with class and dignity,” he said. “If that’s not enough, then I don’t know what is enough. That’s also on me as the head coach. I didn’t get the job done and that allowed the negativity to creep into our program. If it had been about the kids and the basketball, I never would have stepped aside. I still love coaching and being around the kids.”