Johnson fired as WC hoops coach

Published 12:00 pm Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Warren Central is looking for a new boys’ basketball coach after another losing season.

On Tuesday, Vikings coach Jesse Johnson was told by Vicksburg Warren School District superintendent Dr. Elizabeth Duran Swinford that his coaching contract with the school district would not be renewed.

“We exercised our right to end his at-will contract as a coach, but he will still have a teaching job with us,” Swinford said. “We will absolutely extend his contract as a teacher.”

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Johnson has been Warren Central’s basketball coach since 2003, when he replaced Preston Wilson. Warren Central has struggled in recent seasons, winning just four games in the 2009-10 season.

The Vikings appeared to be turning things around this season with a 6-3 start. They were 8-8 after the holidays, but lost eight of nine games to finish with a 9-16 record, their third straight losing season.

Injuries and academic suspensions hurt the Vikings over the final month of the season.

Swinford said the Vikings head basketball coaching position will be advertised statewide by the end of today.

“My staff is working on it and I should approve the ad by today,” Swinford said. “I’m anxious to see the interest there is for the position.”

Swinford gave an insight to what she is looking for in a new coach for the Vikings.

“The way I do it, is I hold my principals accountable,” Swinford said. “Being an academic, I want the new coach to be instructionally sound. But at the same time, I strongly support our athletic programs. I would want to see a good record of sportsmanship. Some one who holds good practices, but does not abuse his power. ”

Warren Central principal Rodney G. Smith would not comment on Johnson’s termination, but said the school will put together a search committee to review the applications for the new boys’ basketball coach.

“We will put a committee together like we did for the football vacancy and put it on the MHSAA (Mississippi High School Activities Association) website,” Smith said. “What we’re looking for is someone who fits with the school.”