By NEMS Daily Journal
BLUE MOUNTAIN – Jerry Conner, who was hired four years ago to establish the men’s basketball program at Blue Mountain College, announced his resignation on Thursday.
Conner, who won more than 500 games as a high school coach in Arizona, was 3-92 in three seasons with the Toppers, including a 2-50 record against rivals from the NAIA TranSouth Conference. He spent his first season at the school preparing for the team’s first season.
“These four years at Blue Mountain have been really enjoyable,” Conner said. “It’s been very frustrating that we haven’t won more, but our team has gotten better each year and I believe we’ve got the program in good shape for the next coach.”
The latest edition of the Toppers went 1-32 and finished with a nine-game losing streak.
Last season’s 15-man Toppers roster included just three seniors, with a six-man junior class. Nine of the players on the roster were from the Daily Journal’s circulation area.
“We are grateful for his investment in the program and for laying the groundwork for others to build upon,” said Dr. Bettye Rogers Coward, BMC president.
Coward said the school will immediately begin the process of finding Conner’s successor.
“As a part of the building process for a new program, the college has the opportunity to assess where we are after the first three years and to determine where we want to be within the next few years,”she said. “We will seek the leadership in coaching to achieve our goals.”
Lavon Driskell, BMC athletics director, also praised Conner for his efforts in establishing the Toppers program.
“I appreciate all the time and effort that coach Conner has put into beginning the men’s basketball program at BMC,” Driskell said. “To build a program from the beginning stages is very time-consuming, plus it requires a lot of energy. Coach Conner was willing to embrace this monumental task and I thank him for his efforts.”
In Arizona, Conner’s teams won two state high school championships, he was named Class 4A coach of the year three times and was inducted into the Arizona Coaches Hall of Fame.
At Shadow Mountain High in Phoenix, he coached such notables as the Atlanta Hawks’ Mike Bibby and former Boston Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling.