Fairfield’s Austing: “It’s the right time to go”

He transformed the Fairfield High School boys basketball program into a Greater Miami Conference force and a Division I state championship contender in his five years at the Tribe helm, but that tenure has ended with Austing’s resignation.

“It’s never one thing,” he said. “It’s just a bunch of things where eventually the scales tip and you say it’s time. I’ve loved every second of coaching here, but I think it’s the right time to go.”

Austing was 77-43 at Fairfield, leading the Indians to the state tournament in 2012 and GMC titles in 2013 and 2014. FHS was 56-20 over the last three seasons.

He informed his players of his decision Monday.

“Let me be clear,” Fairfield athletic director Mark Harden said. “I think he’s one of the finest basketball coaches — high school, college, professional basketball — I’ve ever run across. I think he’s the best in the state. He’s changed this place, the culture of this program, and left it in great hands.

“Being a basketball guy myself, I can honestly tell you that it’s been a pleasure to watch what he’s done with our kids. He’s created a program that I think will sustain itself going forward for a long time because of what he’s done here.”

Austing, 40, plans to continue teaching social studies at Fairfield Freshman School. Having a seventh-grade son and a fifth-grade daughter, he said basketball’s time commitment just became too much.

He is a 1992 Elder graduate who lives on the west side of Cincinnati in the Cleves/Three Rivers area. Austing made it clear that he’s not maneuvering to get a coaching job at his alma mater.

“I can’t make my family’s life revolve around mine. I need to make my life revolve around theirs a little bit,” he said. “I missed a ton of my kids’ sporting events in the last three years. I don’t want to miss a ton of those.

“I love coaching, and I’ll coach again someday. But it is a full-time job. We all walk that tightrope in whatever job we do. They’re not going to add more hours to the day, so I’m pretty maxed out. Just having a normal weekend is really weird to me. I’m just so used to my life being dictated by the next thing.

“Anybody who knows me will know that my level of physical activity will go down. I’ll probably put on a bunch of weight and sit on the couch too much. If I get fat enough, my wife will kick me back out and make me coach again.”

Austing had no intention of stepping down as the 2013-14 season progressed, though he’d had conversations with his staff and Harden about that possibility.

“Five years ago, he made it very clear what his timeline was,” Harden said. “It’s a conversation he and I have had every year for the last three years. There’s no ‘Oh my gosh, what are we going to do?’ kind of moment. He’s been as professional as a person can be.”

Austing said he wanted to leave the program in better shape than he found it, which he clearly did. He also wanted to leave while the program is on the upswing.

“I’ve made it five years without one bad experience,” Austing said. “I don’t think there’s very many high school coaches that can say that. We had a great experience while we were here, and it’s in a great position for the kids to have a great experience for the next five to 10 years. The future couldn’t be any brighter.

“I am so proud of what we accomplished, and I’m even more proud of how we accomplished it. Great students. Great people. Fairfield kids that went through the system and did it our way. And I could not have asked for a better coaching staff.”

Harden praised Austing for creating one of the best coaching staffs in Ohio, which included varsity assistants Jeff Sims and John Cecere, junior varsity coaches Kevin Fletcher and Steve Hartings, and volunteer assistant Steve Kessler.

Harden said the job will be posted within the district for five days in the near future, “but we want to take at least a couple days and celebrate what Timmy has done. We’re going to let the kids grieve a little bit and give Timmy his due. We’re not going to kick dirt on him just yet.”

Harden believes “there’s plenty of good options” to take over the program.

“It’s certainly not something we want to blow up and start over,” Harden said. “Continuity is going to be real important, and I think Timmy would agree with that. I think our kids will desire that. It certainly is a program that is in really good shape with I think the best facility around and good players and great kids and the best fans.”

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