Due to a low number of players and a lack of time to hire a new head coach, IVCC officials announced Thursday the school has suspended the women’s basketball program for the 2023-24 school year.
“It’s a really tough decision,” IVCC athletic director Cory Tomasson said. “We have a couple returning players and we feel terrible for them. It’s really hard to tell someone that their season is over. It’s hard for the assistant coach to hear that. But we are standing behind them. It’s not something we’re happy about by any means, but we really want to turn that around and start the program back on track again.”
Josh Nauman resigned as the IVCC women’s basketball coach in late May. The school went through the interview process for his replacement.
“We received a resignation rather late in the year for us,” Tomasson said. “So that put us a little bit behind with any type of ability to then turn right around and hire a coach to recruit. So we were behind with recruiting. By the end of this process, we had two returning players and two incoming players.
“We had posted the coaching position and actually went through interviews, but by the time we got through all that stuff, we were at a point where it would have been impossible for us to bring in out-of-district athletes because we have a residency policy. You have to establish residency, pay a deposit at least on a place in district 30 days prior to the first day of school. That means they would have had to pull from the current school population. I had gone through every student that I knew of who played high school basketball. We asked the players to ask other people.”
The Eagles, who went 5-26 last season, were returning La Salle-Peru graduate Jenesis Greening and Earlville alumnae Liz Browder, who also plays softball, and had signed L-P graduate Olivia Shetterly, who also will play volleyball, and Streator alumnae Charlee Bourell.
“Personally, I think we shouldn’t field a women’s basketball team with less than eight people,” Tomasson said. “We were at four, and to double that in that amount of time, I don’t think we would have put something out there that would have been beneficial for us, for the players or for the program, so we made the decision to suspend the program.”
Assistant coach Brittney Moriarity, who has been with the program for five years, will stay on this school year and will begin the recruiting process along with Tomasson, who also is the school’s softball coach.
The school will open the position in November and Tomasson said he opens to have interviews in December with the new coach starting in January.
“The plan right now is (Moriarity) and I will actively start the recruiting process for next year, and it’s going to start soon,” Tomasson said. “We’ll be contacting local high school coaches, talking with local players and seeing who we can look at for next year out-of-district as well. Brittney is in a position to be out at basketball games this winter starting in November talking to high school players we’ve already identified. There’s a larger class coming in next year than was available this year in the district.
“Our hope is in November we will open the search back up so we’re being responsible and not just bringing somebody on and paying them a full salary just to sit and recruit. We think Brittney and I can start that process. In January, the new coach would come on and finish up the recruiting, do the scheduling for next year and have everything in place. We think that will give them an ample amount of time, with what we would do seeing the groundwork, to start to put together a really strong program.”