Lee resigns as girls coach

After just one season as head coach of the South Whidbey High School girls basketball team, Coach Sam Lee is leaving.

On Monday, Lee said he is quitting his job as the team's coach to take advantage of "other professional opportunities." Having come to South Whidbey after coaching several years at 4A Juanita High School, Lee took the helm of a team that had gone 7-13 during the 2000-01 season. Last year, the Falcon girls were 9-11 in regular-season play and made it into the district tournament.

In spite of the improvement, Lee's performance as a coach came under fire at a South Whidbey Board of Education meeting last month. At the board's June 24 meeting Matt McGillen, a parent of one high school student, gave a letter to board directors criticizing Lee. The board took no action on McGillen's complaint.

Lee did not cite this criticism as a reason for giving up his head coaching job.

Mike Johnson, principal of South Whidbey High School and acting athletic director during the summer break, said Monday was the first time he had heard officially that Lee had decided to leave. Over the weekend, Lee e-mailed his players to notify them that he is not returning next season.

The school has not yet started searching for a new coach. Johnson said the school hopes to keep Falcon assistant basketball coaches Howard Collier and Henry Pope on the staff, but has no established timetable for naming a head coach.

Though Lee did coach a high school traveling team this summer that included a number of South Whidbey varsity players, he said he does not plan to return to high school coaching in the future.

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