Al­covy bas­ket­ball coach's fu­ture un­clear

The Covington News - - SPORTS - MATT SMITH msmith@cov­news.com

Al­covy High School boys’ bas­ket­ball coach Jabari Levi is on a health-re­lated leave of ab­sence from the Tigers’ pro­gram, and his fu­ture with the pro­gram is un­clear.

Levi said Thurs­day his sta­tus with the school hasn’t changed, while Al­covy Ath­letic Di­rec­tor Gabe Bur­nette said Fri­day the school is tak­ing the “nec­es­sary steps we need to take” to be pre­pared for any out­come.

“It just de­pends how things un­fold with Coach Levi,” he said. “By him be­ing out on per­sonal leave – I don’t know how that is go­ing to un­fold – but the process is just to be pre­pared whether he re­turns or not.”

Levi left the Tigers in early Jan­uary with an 1-11 over­all record, as the Tigers failed to gain trac­tion un­der their first-year head coach. Eric Hol­lier, who pre­vi­ously coached at Vet­er­ans Mid­dle School, is the in­terim coach in Levi’s ab­sence.

De­spite the Tigers’ strug­gles on the court, Levi said his in­ten­tion is to re­turn to the pro­gram af­ter tend­ing to his per­sonal health.

Be­fore com­ing to Al­covy in the spring, Levi pre­vi­ously coached at Josey High School in Au­gusta. He went 13-13 in his fi­nal sea­son with Josey, be­fore also tak­ing a leave of ab­sence with that pro­gram for health con­cerns.

The Au­gusta Chron­i­cle re­ported in a March 19 ar­ti­cle, “Josey boys bas­ket­ball coach Levi won’t be back next sea­son,” that Levi, “missed some games and prac­tices this sea­son for health rea­sons, which he de­scribed as hered­i­tary prob­lems with his blood.”

Af­ter step­ping down at Josey, Levi took over for for­mer Al­covy boys’ bas­ket­ball coach Eugene Brown, who left af­ter the 2012-13 school year.

Af­ter 12 games at Al­covy, Levi de­cided once again to take a leave of ab­sence and his sta­tus re­mains un­clear. Levi did not di­rectly re­spond to re­ports that Al­covy was

pre­par­ing for a coach­ing search for the end of the sea­son.

“There was no up­date on my po­si­tion with Al­covy from my end,” Levi said Thurs­day. “I’m ba­si­cally try­ing to get healthy and get back to­gether. That’s what I’ve been work­ing on - get­ting my­self ready to get back out there.”

Bur­nette didn’t have much to add about re­ported com­ments he made on a new search.

“I don’t know on that part of it, as far as his health,” Bur­nette said. “Like I said, it’s his per­sonal busi­ness and I try to re­spect that. My big­gest con­cern as ath­letic di­rec­tor is that I have some­thing in place so the kids can fin­ish out their sea­son.

“We brought in Coach Hol­lier as an in­terim coach so the kids could fin­ish out their sea­son.”

If the Tigers have started look­ing for a new coach or plan to, Levi said it was news to him

“I have no idea,” Levi said Thurs­day. “I’m not sure where that’s come from. I haven’t stepped down on my own. I wasn’t no­ti­fied.”

Bur­nette said that the school would con­tinue to take steps to sup­port the bas­ket­ball pro­gram.

“It has been a dif­fi­cult year for our bas­ket­ball pro­gram,” Bur­nette said. “We’re in a tran­si­tional stage, and we’re try­ing to give as much sup­port as pos­si­ble to try to get the pro­grams back to where they were.”

Levi said that he has been in con­tact with his play­ers, but hasn’t re- ceived a sta­tus up­date from the school.

“I’ve talked with my play­ers, and I’ve made sure to try to keep this about them dur­ing my leave, not about me,” he said. “This is all news to me. It was my in­ten­tion to re­turn. I didn’t know any­thing about (the re­port about a search). No one con­tacted me from (Al­covy).”

Al­covy has gone 1-5 in its last six games since Hol­lier took over.

Levi’s lone win with the pro­gram came Dec. 3, a 75-73 road vic­tory over Druid Hills. Hol­lier earned his first win as in­terim coach over the Red Devils 44-43 at home Dec. 17.

Levi joined the Tigers’ pro­gram this sea­son af­ter Brown left Al­covy near the end of the 2012-2013 school year.

An­thony Banks/The Cov­ing­ton News

Al­covy boys bas­ket­ball coach Jabari Levi said this week that his sta­tus with the Tigers' pro­gram re­mains un­changed since he be­gan a leave of ab­sence ear­lier this month.

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