The move came quick and sudden.
And now, the Killeen Independent School District has to maneuver even faster.
When former Harker Heights football coach and athletic coordinator Mike Mullins surprised his team June 18 to become an assistant at 3A Navasota, the move gave the district little time to look for a replacement.
The Heights athletic coordinator position was posted on KISD’s website a day later and will close July 8. However, July 12 is the last day coaches and teachers can resign without needing to be released by a school board, and that puts KISD in a time crunch to find a new leader for the Harker Heights athletics programs.
“Ideally, would we like to have a candidate and a finalist by the 12th? Yes,” KISD Deputy Superintendent John Craft said. “It is important to get a head coach hired as soon as possible, but we have to do our due diligence and get the best fit for Harker Heights High School.”
With the Fourth of July holiday closing KISD offices this week, though, Craft does not expect the hiring committee to begin the screening process for potential candidates
until July 9-10, and interviews are tentatively slated to begin July 11-12.
“These offices are going to be closed next week, but we want to make sure we have ample opportunity for all interested applicants to apply,” Craft said. “But that depends on how everyone’s schedule works — not just the candidates, but also part of the interview committee.”
As for the actual hire, that could come as soon as July 12, but Craft said he would not rush the hire if the hiring committee does not come to a consensus by that date.
“We are hoping for around that July 12 date, but we are not going to rush into it,” he said. “A magic date has not been set. We have not looked at the calendar and said if we don’t have a hire by this date then it is a no-go.
“Timing, we understand, is of the essence here, and we are going to try to make the hire as close to the 12th as we possibly can.”
KISD faced a similar situation two years ago with the sudden retirement of former Shoemaker head football coach Ken Gray on June 9, 2011. That summer, KISD orchestrated a shotgun-style coaching search, interviewing 19 candidates in one day before ultimately hiring Channon Hall on July 1.
Craft was hopeful if the process drags past July 12 that other districts would be willing to work with KISD.
“In most cases — particularly a promotion — districts are willing to work with individuals (to get them out of their contracts),” Craft said. “It kind of depends on the start date. ... I know we would try to work with another district with a coach that would be leaving — even as late as it is.”
Whenever the coach is hired, he will be taking over a program that made the playoffs for the first time since 2006 last season. However, the team was only 4-7 in 2012 and Mullins was 14-27 in four years at Harker Heights.
“This is a big hire for Harker Heights High School and (we want) someone with a lot of energy, obviously understands the game of football, but is able to come in and shape the vision for not just football but for all the athletic programs at the high school,” Craft said. “We also want someone that works well with the staff and the students at the high school and is truly about preparing student athletes for life beyond high school.”