COVINGTON, Ga. — Mack Hardwick recently informed Alcovy’s athletic director Thomas Lowe that he is stepping down as head coach of the Tigers squad effective immediately, The Covington News discovered Wednesday.
Hardwick said “personal reasons” were the leading factor toward his decision. However, it wasn’t the only component.
Hardwick also pointed to the lack of support for the basketball squad as a contributing factor.
“One of the reasons why I’m leaving is because I’m so burnt out,” Hardwick said. “There’s only so much a head coach is supposed to do. I’m down there with my kids fundraising on Saturdays multiple times and most coaches all they need to do is concentrate on coaching. We do it all.”
Moving forward under a new head coach, Hardwick hopes the support for Tiger basketball ramps up significantly.
“Whoever is coming in will have a good program,” Hardwick said. “They’ll need support from the parents, the people at the school and from the people in the community. That’s where it starts. So, hopefully the next coach that comes in will get the support.”
In his eight-year tenure at the helm, Hardwick has led the Tigers to a 69-132 overall record along with a 26-60 mark in region play. Alcovy made it to the playoffs once with Hardwick as head coach.
Hardwick was promoted from his assistant coach’s role under former head coach Duane Kelley. The year preceding Hardwick’s promotion, the Tigers went 0-22.
So, the Tigers have seen steady progression across the board with Hardwick in charge.
“When I first inherited this team, they were 0-22. One of the biggest things we incorporated slowly over the years is that [the players] had basketball IQ and understood how to run the system,” Hardwick said. “When I first took over, they didn’t know how to run a single play. Now, they have a lot of basketball IQ and they’re continuing to grow in the offseason.”
Just this past season, the Tigers were led by young talent in sophomore Nick Durham and freshmen Jakori Pinelle and Andre Jernigan.
In fact, having such a young core returning for the next two to three years made Hardwick’s final call to step down difficult.
“That is what’s hurting me with this decision,” he said. “The success should be next year, literally around the corner. Because of how talented [the players] are, it really held up my decision for as long as it did. We’ve really maturated these players and we’ve invested into them. I’ve been here turning these wheels for [eight years] and to step back and let someone else take off from where it’s at now catches you in limbo.”
Hardwick did stress that he is remaining at Alcovy High School as a teacher and said he will help the boys basketball team “from a distance” in the future.
Nevertheless, Hardwick believes now is the right moment for him to step aside and let a new leader come in to lead the Tigers.
“It’s time for some new blood to come in and, prayerfully, they come in with the support behind them,” Hardwick said.
The Covington News has been in contact with athletic director Thomas Lowe and is expecting a statement from the school. Continue following The News’ website for more information concerning this story.