ENID, Okla. — Northern Oklahoma College Enid men's basketball coach Aaron Butcher is going back home. Butcher resigned this week following two seasons as the Jets' head coach.
"It was a chance that came out of nowhere and was the chance to better our family a little bit and get my wife and daughter closer to home," he said on Wednesday.
Butcher will begin his new job as athletic director at Tippecanoe Valley High School in Akron, Ind., on Thursday. The school is Class 3A for athletics, the second largest classification in Indiana.
While the lure of going back home was a driving factor, Butcher said the decision was not easy.
"It was by far the hardest decision I have had to make," he said. "I didn't sleep for about two weeks." He said he informed the team on Monday.
"Telling the guys was one of the hardest things I have ever done," Butcher said. "At the same time, they understood it was a family move."
During his two seasons at NOC Enid, the Jets were 29-34, including going 17-15 this past season. Prior to NOC Enid, Butcher spent six seasons at Ancilla Domini College, a two year college in Donaldson, Ind. At Ancilla, Butcher led the Chargers to a 113-65 record.
“While I am sad to not have the opportunity to work more with Aaron, I wish him and his family all the best in this new endeavor,” NOC Athletic Director Alan Foster said. Foster was hired in July.
“We will look forward to filling this position with a quality coach who can continue the NOC Enid Jets successful trajectory. Our student athletes deserve our best efforts," he said.
Early speculation on a potential replacement includes current assistant coach Chris Gerber, who will be entering his fourth year at NOC Enid.
Butcher said while he will miss game nights, the relationships and the camaraderie will be something he will especially miss.
"The film sessions, preparing for the game, scouting reports, the road trips with the guys — those will be things we'll miss," he said. "The game nights are fun, but it's all the other stuff we'll miss.
"The timing made it an even tougher decision. It's a really talented roster, but most importantly they're all great kids. I was looking forward to Year 3 and coaching them."
He called family considerations though a "non-negotiable." He said he decided early on in his career that family would always take precedence. His daughter is currently in 7th-grade and attends Oklahoma Bible Academy. He said she is excited about going home as is his wife.
"There's a lot positives there (at Tippecanoe Valley High School)," Butcher said. "It's a good school system for our daughter. It was something I just could not pass up. It's a new challenge. Tippecanoe Valley gets really good community support and it's an opportunity to get in there and continue to have success and elevate any way we can."
Another factor is the current uncertainty across the collegiate sports landscape in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
"Who knows what is going to happen," Butcher said.
He said he will leave Enid and NOC Enid with good memories.
"We will miss the people," Butcher said. "(NOC Enid) is a really great place. We had nothing but positive experiences there. The people above me are great. The professors are great. Enid has been great."