JEFFERSON — Jackson County girls basketball coach Chad Pittman officially ended his run as the longest-tenured coach among current staff at the school on Sunday following an announcement during the Panthers athletic banquet.
“I just felt like this was a good time to have a change for my family right now,” Pittman said. “In fairness to everybody, you want to leave things in good shape and you want to be professional. Those were some things that I used to drive my decision. It’s somebody else’s baby now and I hope they treat it as such.”
While feeling were mixed, the move wasn’t a total surprise for everyone as Pittman informed principal Todd McGhee, athletic director Joe Lancaster and his assistant coaches shortly after the season ended.
“I’ve been here for 17 years and he’s been here for nine of those years,” Lancaster said.
“We appreciate everything he’s done. He’s brought the program forward a long way. We’re now in the very early stages of finding a coach for our girls basketball team.”
In his nine seasons as Lady Panthers head coach, Pittman compiled a 110-128 record and made two trips to the state tournament.
Pittman said there are too many memories to pick out a favorite, but games like the four-overtime loss to Newton County, facing former region foe Winder regularly, as well as going 4-0 against East Jackson (earned 100th coaching win against them on Dec. 4) all stand out.
Five of his former players have suited up for college basketball programs as well.
The Lady Panthers also increased their win totals in each of the last three seasons and return four seniors, out of nine total, next year, including three who have started since their freshman season.
Pittman said the Lady Panthers next coach will inherit a team with a solid nucleus.
“With the talent coming back and the direction the program is going, I think they can win 20 games next year,” Pittman predicted. “The cupboard isn’t empty.”