Payson High boys basketball coach Randy Wilcox added his name Thursday to the long list of coaches who have unexpectedly resigned.
In a hastily-called team meeting Thursday afternoon in Wilson Dome, Wilcox told the varsity players that he was resigning as head coach. His decision came with five games remaining in the regular season.
In addressing the players, Wilcox wrapped up his short speech by wishing them well in their final games.
PHS Athletic Director Dave Bradley who immediately took over the coaching reins of the team said Wilcox's decision caught him by surprise and that he hated to see it happen.
Wilcox, who has been under fire the past two seasons from some parents and players, said the gut-wrenching decision was an extremely difficult one for him to make.
"This isn't a good thing," he said. "Coaches just don't leave during the season unless there are problems that can't be resolved."
The problems, Wilcox said, centered around the fact "I was not willing to sacrifice or relax my standards."
Midway through this season, the former coach suspended a pair of starting players for unbecoming conduct. Wilcox was also known to ask the players to adhere to a certain set of team standards including a dress code and proper decorum on and off the court that were not popular with some.
Former Longhorn football coach Jim Beall, who resigned in 1999 after leading the Horns to the 1998 state championship, said he was dismayed by Wilcox's decision.
"I'm totally sick about this," he said. "I don't want Randy to go through what I did."
Sunday afternoon, Wilcox said he was still learning to deal with life without basketball but, "appreciated the parents who supported my efforts and I will keep the team in my prayers."
Out the door
Head coaches resigning at Payson High School is nothing new.
In addition to Beall's shocking decision to step aside, other coaches who have resigned in the past few years include Jerry Daniels (girls basketball), Steve Konvalin (volleyball), Dave Greiner (soccer), Greg Larkins (softball) and Jim Quinlan (boys basketball).
Public explanations for most of the resignations have been uniform the coaches' desire to spend more time with their families.
Ironically, it was Wilcox who replaced Quinlan when he resigned three years ago after battling a group of disgruntled parents. Quinlan said he thoroughly understood what Wilcox was going through and wished him well with his decision.
"He's a good man and knows the game," he said. "Everyone should be sorry to see him go."
With Bradley who coached the Longhorns from 1976 to 1985 and won a state championship in 1979 now at the helm of the team, the Longhorns finished the weekend by splitting a pair of East region games.
In Wilson Dome Friday evening, the Horns dropped a 72-55 decision to Blue Ridge. One day later near Deer Valley, Payson rode the scoring of Mike Doss to (16 points) to whip Pinnacle 56-46.
With 3-8 East credentials, the Longhorns are slated to wrap up the regional season with a trio of games this week.
Today (Tuesday) the Horns travel to Show Low for a 7:30 p.m. contest. Wednesday, they take on Round Valley in a make-up contest that was rescheduled due to a snowstorm that struck Arizona early this month. The regional campaign concludes Feb. 2 against Alchesay.