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Miller will not return as North Fremont head boys basketball coach

North Fremont head coach Bryan Miller makes calls as North Fremont High School takes on Ririe High School in 2A District 6 championship on Feb. 21 at South Fremont High School. John Roark/ jroark@postregister.com

By KOSTER KENNARD
Upper Valley Standard Journal

District and school officials let go of Bryan Miller from his responsibilities as head boys basketball coach at North Fremont High School Tuesday.

This was Miller’s second year as head coach at North Fremont. Miller led the Huskies to a second place finish in the Nuclear Conference behind state runner up Ririe, earning the team’s second postseason berth in school history. Miller was also voted coach of the year by his coaching peers in the Nuclear Conference.

The team ended this season with a record of 13-14. Miller’s overall record with the team was 26-24.

Sixteen years ago, Miller was hired as the coach of North Fremont’s junior high basketball program and has been heavily involved with North Fremont basketball ever since.

On Monday the team held a banquet where they handed out awards and discussed plans for the following summer and season.

In the state of Idaho, high school coaches sign one year contracts. Miller was informed of the decision not to renew his contract Tuesday afternoon in a meeting with Fremont School District superintendent Byron Stutzman, North Fremont Principal Drex Hathaway and North Fremont athletic director Jodi Beard.

Stutzman declined commenting on the firing and said he instructed his subordinates to do the same stating that commenting on personal issues like this one can lead to litigation and saying his legal counsel advised against commenting.

Though Miller accepts responsibility for his team’s losing record this season, he was surprised to find out he was being let go and said that many he has talked to have voiced similar concerns.

Miller said it’s often assumed that coaches contracts will be renewed from year to year and that he asked for input from higher ups about his coaching performance.

“I had requested some evaluation throughout the season, if there were any from the school and they said, ‘Oh no, you’re doing fine!’ And I show up to this meeting yesterday afternoon and they inform me that I wasn’t doing fine and that was it,” he said.

Miller said in the meeting he received little feedback as to why he was let go. There were however a couple words on the matter in the official letter they gave him, words that stung Miller after the work he had put into building up the Huskies’ basketball program.

“The letter that they handed me that was already signed by the superintendent stated that during my time as the coach, the players had regressed,” he said. “Regress doesn’t mean they had not progressed, it means that they went backwards. And as I think about that and think about, not only this season, but about my whole career as a coach over that 16 year span and the things that I’ve done, I’m just shocked that they feel like these players this season went backwards.”

Miller suspects that parent complaints had something to do with North Fremont’s choice to make a change. Miller admits he made a few coaching mistakes but said he wasn’t aware of the number who were upset.

“I knew that throughout the season, as is always the case, that there’s players or parents (who) feel like (they) or their son should be on the court more than he is,” Miller said. “And that’s always a challenge for a coach to sometimes handle that feeling and opinion. But I felt like the conversations I had about that with the parents throughout this season were productive and I was grateful for their willingness to discuss it with me.”

North Fremont has had six head boys basketball coaches since 2002 and six different principals.

Miller isn’t the only one who is surprised by the firing.

“I’ve discussed this situation in the last four hours with several of my colleagues throughout the southeast Idaho and elsewhere with the coaches, they’re all stunned,” Miller said. “I don’t know what the expectation would have been if we would have won a state championship, if that would have made the difference. I don’t know.”

Miller works within the school and plans to stay in the community instead of taking a coaching position somewhere else.

Miller said despite the tough ending, he’s really enjoyed being able to work with the boys on his basketball team.

“It has been a great blessing in my life to coach and I believe in these boys and this team,” he said. “I know that they have a lot of potential and I was excited to help them achieve that potential next season and going forward.”

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