GREENFIELD — The Doug Laker era at Greenfield-Central has come to an end.
The Greenfield-Central School Board accepted Laker’s resignation as the Cougars’ head girls basketball coach Monday at the board’s regular monthly meeting, ending days of questions about his future with the district.
Laker previously told the Daily Reporter he was facing termination amid a variety of complaints from school officials about his conduct as a coach, including swearing at his players; school officials said they cannot comment on personnel matters.
Laker submitted a letter of resignation Monday.
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A two-time Hoosier Heritage and Hancock County coach of the year, Laker ends his career as the winningest coach in Greenfield-Central history — boys or girls. In nine seasons at the school, Laker compiled a 129-77 record and won a sectional title in 2016.
This year’s team, which finished 17-11 and lost in the sectional championship to New Castle, was honored Monday as part of the district’s Celebrate Excellence program for winning the Hall of Fame Classic before Laker’s resignation was officially approved.
Greenfield-Central Superintendent Harold Olin offered gratitude to the longtime head coach for his dedication to the program.
“I am grateful for the nine years he gave to the program,” Olin said. “(Laker) really wanted to see this Class of 2017 finish. He really improved the schedule and gave our kids some exposure to better basketball teams.
“(Laker) worked hard to make the kids stronger — mentally and physically.”
Greenfield-Central won a school-record 23 games two seasons ago after beating Mt. Vernon for the program’s first sectional title since 2004. The Cougars eventually lost in the regional final and spent this season playing one of the toughest schedules in the state, according to the Sagarin Ratings.
“After much reflection with my family and friends, I have decided it is best to move on to the next chapter in my life,” Laker said in a statement to the Daily Reporter. “I can never begin to express the gratitude I have in my heart for all of the people who have showed an overwhelming amount of support over the last two weeks.”
Laker coached 2017 Miss Basketball candidate Madison Wise, who became just the fifth girl in state history to finish her career with more than 2,000 points and 1,000 rebounds. She will continue her career at Iowa State, while fellow Cougars senior Katie Helgason will also play Division I basketball at Ball State.
Wise spoke in front of the board and those in attendance Monday. Supporters of Laker, Wise included, wore blue Cougar basketball T-shirts that read, “ALL IN,” on the front.
“I would just like to thank Coach Laker for all he has done for the community for the last nine years,” Wise said. “I am not standing here because I have another four years left of high school. I am standing here because it is the right thing to do. Just like Coach Laker taught his players, to do things the right way.
“Our team would not be honored for excellence tonight if it were not for Coach Laker. There is no greater example of leadership and devotion to a program. He is a mentor and a role model. We are very saddened to see our five-star coach treated this way.”
Wise was the only one to speak on Laker’s behalf Monday.
Former Indiana University girls basketball coach and current WNBA head coach Curt Miller of the Connecticut Sun praised the longtime head coach on Twitter.
“I recruited the state of Indiana for over 20 years,“ Miller said. “Simply stated, Coach Laker is one of the best ever.”
Laker previously served as an assistant athletics director at the school for eight years and, in 2016, was awarded the title of Coach of the Year by the Indiana Basketball Coaches Association. He was named IIAA middle school athletics director of the year in 2014 and coached the Indiana Junior All-Stars in 2015.
“I am very grateful to have had this opportunity at (Greenfield-Central),” Laker concluded in his statement. “(It) has helped me grow as a coach and a person.
“I have given everything I have to our program over the last 10 years, and it has given me so much more.”