After 17 years courtside, Chuck Butler is leaving coaching for the administrative office.
Butler has resigned as Jackson County’s boys’ basketball coach, having served in that post for six years, for an assistant principal job at Banks County Middle School.
“I definitely had to think about it and see if I wanted to move away from the team, but I just felt like it was a good career opportunity for me,” said Butler, who worked as an assistant for 11 years before coaching the Panthers.
A Jackson County alum and former player, Butler took over the Jackson County program late during the 2013-14 season as an interim coach. He shed the interim label shortly after and went on to guide the Panthers to their best season in half a century in 2015-16 when the team went 18-12. He led Jackson County to a 12-15 record this past winter in his final season in what stands as one of the better campaigns in program history.
But Butler said he began to ponder his coaching future at the end of the season, telling athletic director Brad Hayes he wasn’t sure how much longer he’d continue in that role given a desire to spend more time with his family. Butler has a 12-year-old daughter and 9-year-old son.
“Just the time that the (players) need, I just didn’t know if I was going to be able to commit to that,” he said.
While he wasn’t necessarily looking to leave, he began to look into opportunities. An administrator’s position at Banks County Middle School opened up, which he applied for and accepted. Butler has held administrator certification for several years.
He will have no coaching duties at Banks County. The move will also allow Butler, who lives just eight miles from Banks County Middle School, to be in the same building as his daughter next year. She is a rising eighth grader. Butler said the move will benefit his family, and conveyed that to his players when he informed them of his decision.
“I said that I was really at peace with the decision because everybody I love the most and care about the most kind of wins in this,” he said.
Butler added that he thinks this will benefit the team.
“I know that coach Hayes and them will bring in a top-notch coach that will give those guys the time that they deserve and that they need to be successful,” he said.
It will be a change, though, for Butler, who has coached basketball for all of his professional life and played the sport while growing up.
“Literally, this upcoming year is the first year I’m not doing basketball,” he said.
The decision to leave his coaching post was a hard one, given his ties to the school and the relationships formed with the players. Butler, a 1997 Jackson County graduate, said serving as the Panthers’ head coach was his “dream job.”
“Little did I know that it would be my first (head-coaching) opportunity,” he said. “It’s just been great. I just wanted to do what was the best for them.”
Butler said he believes he leaves the program on solid footing.
“I guess the goal is always you just want to try to leave it better than you found it, and I’d like to believe that we’ve established a pretty good foundation for the program,” he said.
Butler added that though he’s moving on, he’s excited to see where the program will go from here.
“I’ll always be rooting for them,” Butler said. “That’s for sure.”