The coach who guided the Payson Longhorn boys basketball team to a state runner-up finish in February is stepping down.
Chuck Hardt submitted his letter of resignation late this week to school administrators, saying he would like to be considered next year for an assistant coaching position.
Following Hardt's resignation, Payson High School interim athletic director Tim Fruth appointed Kenny Hayes to replace Hardt, pending school board approval.
Hayes, a PHS social studies teacher, served last season as the junior varsity head coach and a varsity assistant. He began his coaching career at PHS three years ago as the freshman head coach. He also coaches football and track and field.
"I've learned a lot from coach Hardt and I'm happy he's going to be a part of our staff," he said. "I'm looking forward to the challenges of the position."
His goal, he said, "is to make the program among the best in Arizona."
Fruth lauded Hayes "as the best person for the job and a coach whose time has come."
Fruth also praised Hardt, the longtime veteran.
"He has been instrumental in building a successful basketball team," Fruth said.
"He has been a great role model, mentor and teacher for our athletes."
Hardt, who served a stint as head basketball coach in the 1980s, took over the reins of the program in October 2005 after Scott Dean resigned, after being on the job only three months.
"Chuck really bailed us out of a tough situation by willingly stepping in and committing to be the head coach for two years," Fruth said.
In Hardt's letter of resignation, which was effective Thursday, he also resigned as head coach of the boys and girls track and field and cross country teams.
He helped found the cross country team in 1992 and has been head track coach the past 10 years.
Hardt, who is officially retiring from the district, will remain at the school as a physical education teacher under a contract with Education Series, Inc. (ESI)
The Payson School District contracts with ESI to hire teachers, such as Hardt, after they have retired.