Lebanon High School boys basketball coach Kevin Higgins is shown in action during a game in Lebanon this season. RICK CASSANO/STAFF

Lebanon’s Higgins set to be approved as Hamilton’s next basketball coach

The Hamilton City School District has a special board meeting scheduled for Friday at 9:30 a.m., and the agenda released online by the district includes basketball and social studies teaching positions for Higgins, Lebanon’s head coach for the last four years.

Hamilton athletic director Todd Grimm said even with the board agenda, he could neither confirm nor deny that Higgins is the selection committee’s choice to be the next basketball coach.

» RELATED: Van Winkle steps down at Hamilton

“I cannot make any comments regarding our next head coach until he is formally board approved on Friday morning,” Grimm said.

Higgins is a St. Xavier graduate who coached at Aiken and Colerain before coming to Lebanon. His record with the Warriors was a modest 45-48, but he had two 14-win seasons, and LHS athletic director Bill Stewart said that’s the highest victory total since Dave Merchant retired in 2002.

“He restored some of the luster to the Lebanon boys basketball program and was continuing to work that way,” Stewart said. “Obviously we’re disappointed to see Kevin leave. We think he’s one of the finest coaches in the city of Cincinnati.

“The other thing I’ll say about Kevin is he is an all-star in the classroom. He taught AP government for us, and we’ll miss him as badly in the classroom as we’ll miss him as our basketball coach.”

Hamilton is looking to replace Sean Van Winkle, who stepped down after going 43-51 in four years with Big Blue. HHS was 12-11 this year, the program’s first winning record since 2006-07, and has some of its best players returning next season.

Grimm said he submitted information on the final four candidates for the job to Chad Konkle, Hamilton’s assistant superintendent and director of human resources, and Konkle was slated to forward that information to the school board in executive session Tuesday night.

“I gave Dr. Konkle who I recommended out of those final four. I’m assuming he gave that information to the school board,” Grimm said. “We wanted to be completely transparent in our process as far as who we interviewed, what we liked about the candidates and what we liked about the candidates we brought back for the final-round interviews.”

He said 11 individuals were interviewed for the position and 10 had head coaching experience at the high school varsity or collegiate level.

Grimm said the pool of candidates was around 50.

“I think that’s a testament to where our program is this year,” he said. “Our youth program is in a great position right now. Along with what Coach Van Winkle was able to do in four years as our head coach, our freshman team went 20-2 this year, and our JV was very, very competitive.

“The candidate pool as a whole was a great list of people. It was very tough to narrow it down to four. I will say this about our final four candidates: They all brought a different strength to the position, and they all had head coaching experience. We are extremely excited about how the process played out.

“The assistant coaches that Sean had in the building have continued to work with our basketball players. They’ve been doing the four-player workouts. We’ve had open gyms every week. We are in the weight room. We’re doing the things that we needed to do while our search was ongoing.”

Lebanon’s search for a new coach is just beginning. Stewart said the job will be posted internally and externally “and then we’re looking for the next-best basketball coach in the city of Cincinnati to coach our kids.”

Stewart said Higgins informed the team Wednesday morning about his pending move to Hamilton.

Thank you for reading the Journal-News and for supporting local journalism. Subscribers: log in for access to your daily ePaper and premium newsletters.

Thank you for supporting in-depth local journalism with your subscription to the Journal-News. Get more news when you want it with email newsletters just for subscribers. Sign up here.