Jim Jabir’s decision to step down as Dayton Flyers women’s basketball coach Wednesday after 13 seasons because of health reasons surprised Athletic Director Neil Sullivan, but he said UD respects Jabir’s decision and knows Jabir had to do what was in his own best interest.
“These things are never easy, particularly for the women in the program,” Sullivan said Thursday. “It was a tough situation for coach Jabir.”
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The process of replacing Jabir has begun. Former football coach Mike Kelly, an associate vice president for athletics and current program administrator, will oversee administrative aspects of the program. He will hand travel arrangements and scheduling, for example.
Dayton’s remaining staff — assistant coaches Simon Harris, Jeff House and Kayla Ard, director of basketball operations Arnika Edwards and recruiting coordinator Parker Payne — will handle the on-court duties.
“They’re moving full steam ahead,” Sullivan said. “We’re working through conversations with those coaches. The girls need them right now. We need them. We have a lot of confidence in them. We expect they’ll be here to handle the transition.”
Sullivan would not say whether the assistant coaches would be in the running to be the new head coach, but the goal is to have a new head coach in place for the 2016-17 season.
“Our plan to move forward expeditiously but also very deliberately,” Sullivan said. “We’re evaluating and appraising the totality of the circumstances. We’ll make a timely decision that we think is in the best interest of the program. I don’t want to speak much publicly about it and compromise the integrity of the process, but we certainly will have a defined leader moving into the basketball season.”
Jabir said recent health scares involving his heart convinced him to step down. He fought the decision for a long time, and he said it was unfortunate he had to step down so close to the start of the season.
When asked if he was aware of Jabir’s heart problems, Sullivan said, “I’ll just respect his privacy and the private nature of his conversations. His health is obviously a deep personal matter, but coach and I have had good, candid communication.”
Of Jabir’s legacy, Sullivan said, “There’s no question Jim built a nationally recognized women’s basketball program. His record speaks for itself. He did it the right way. We went from 3-25 in his first season to at one point six consecutive NCAA appearances, including an Elite Eight, which was historic. The fans enjoyed the style of play. The players represented the university and were fantastic, exemplary student-athletes. He really will be missed. He set the bar high for the women’s basketball program.”
Practice begins in several weeks for the Flyers. Current and former players reacted to Jabir’s resignation on Twitter.