Garden City C.C. hopes to find new coach quickly




Garden City Community College head coach Jeff Tatum's surprising resignation Thursday means the school now needs to hire a new coach quickly.

National Signing Day is Feb. 6, so GCCC administration wants to get a coach in place with ample time to try to keep current commits and fill out the class with other recruits.

"I think there's a sense of urgency in terms of a couple of things," GCCC athletic director Dennis Harp said.

The school will look internally first, with those applications being due at noon Tuesday. Possible candidates include offensive coordinator Matt Miller and defensive coordinator Lou West. West has head coaching experience, and was head coach at NCAA Division I-FCS Indiana State for three years. Miller, a former Kansas State quarterback and assistant coach, has never been a head coach.

"The key to a good coaching staff is bringing in great people around you," GCCC president Herbert Swender said. "So we're gonna look internal, first. Obviously, we're gonna have to move quick on things, to make our decision whether to go external."

Harp will chair a six-person committee that will conduct interviews and make decisions through the hiring process. He said interviews could start as early as Wednesday.

Harp added that he'd already gotten several inquiries about the job, through email and phone calls on Thursday.

And it may not be an easy task to replace Tatum, who in his second year produced the best season Garden City has seen in years. The Busters went 7-4 this past season and won the Mississippi Bowl, beating then-No. 7 Copiah Lincoln, 31-29, and finishing No. 20 in the final NJCAA poll.

"He did a remarkable job," Harp said. "Of course, I didn't come on board until September of last year, so my observations were only the season. When you turn a program around from 2-7 to 7-4, and win a bowl game over the No. 7 team in the country, that's quite a turnaround. That's a tremendous accomplishment."

Tatum said he believes the program will be fine, whoever ends up replacing him. Swender shares the optimism.

"Delighted we had a great season this year, but more importantly, I feel good about the way the program's headed, and certainly with this opportunity, we're gonna keep that forging on," Swender said.

Lady Busters move up

The Garden City Community College women's basketball team moved up to No. 10 in the latest NJCAA poll.

Voting was done before the Lady Broncbusters' loss to Hutchinson on Monday. The Busters were previously ranked 11th. Garden City is 16-1 and 2-1 in KJCCC play.

Sophomore post Shicole Watts was honored as NJCAA and KJCCC player of the week for the first week of January.

Watts had 24 points and 15 rebounds in a triple-overtime win against Butler on Saturday, then added 19 points and 12 rebounds in the 61-46 loss to Hutchinson on Monday.

Watts is the second Buster to earn national honors this season, as Tamara Jones was named NJCAA player of the week twice in November.

Watts is third in the Jayhawk West in scoring, averaging 15.9 points per game, and fourth in rebounding, at 7.8 rebounds per game.

Garden City next plays at last-place Colby (6-11, 0-3) at 2 p.m. Sunday.

No trouble after messy end

The Garden City Community College men's basketball team's upset of No. 9 Barton on Wednesday ended with the teams having to be separated, and a good deal of jawing between both players and coaches.

But no punches were thrown, and it looks like there won't be any consequences for the near-melee.

"I think the commissioner is gathering up the statements from everybody who was involved, and we have submitted them to him," Harp said.

The game was chippy throughout the second half of the 66-47 GCCC win, and there were three technical fouls called. Things boiled over after the post-game handshakes, and coaches and administrators moved in quickly to get the players away from each other.

Harp said after reviewing video of the incident, there weren't any punches, and commended how the Garden City players and staff handled everything.

"I'll say this, I'm very pleased and proud of our coaches, their sideline demeanor, and the conduct of our basketball team," he said. "I think they've shown a pattern of consistently handling themselves in a very professional way."

Garden City has levied no disciplinary action of its own, but KJCCC commissioner Bryce Roderick and the conference could still decide otherwise, though Harp said it's unlikely anything will happen.

"I don't anticipate any action on our players — there's nothing there that I see," he said. "I can't speak for the commissioner."

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