Business as usual.
Kerry Prather, athletic director and head men’s basketball coach, had a meeting scheduled with Paul Sargent, head men’s and women’s cross country and track coach.
But by the time the meeting was over, Prather was out a head coach.
Sargent resigned—a complete surprise to Prather.
Prather said Sargent’s resignation comes at an “inopportune time,” as both teams are in the initial stages of their season.
“It was awkward timing,” Prather said. “But I thanked him for good service and a long time here. And that was it.”
Prather declined to comment on whether Sargent’s resignation was for a personal or professional reason, saying he was “not at liberty” to discuss Sargent’s personnel information—but he did speculate on why he left.
“Coaching is an interesting vocation,” Prather said. “You wake up every day and can’t wait to get here. Or, you decide it’s time to go do something else. As a matter of conjecture, I think that’s just kind of the point that Paul came to.”
After the meeting, Prather scrambled to get a new head coach in line, working his way from the college’s human resources department to president Thomas Minar—eventually appointing Demetrius Bailey as an interim.
Less than 24 hours after Sargent resigned, Bailey officially had the job.
Sargent declined to comment for this story, saying he wanted to “aid in the closure of [his] time at Franklin College” and assist in the transition of Bailey as the new coach.
All of the cross country and track students The Franklin reached out to either declined to comment on Sargent’s resignation or did not reply.
As of last Friday, Sargent’s campus email address was deactivated.
When this story went to print, his biography was still live on the Franklin College athletic website.
The site touts the various championships Sargent led his teams to, including the success of 2015 graduate Anna Murdock as the first-ever Franklin College champion in the 800-meter run.
In an all-campus email, Prather spoke to the fact that most of Sargent’s time at the college was spent bouncing around from high school to middle school to practice, as the track team didn’t have a campus facility until Grizzly Park was built.
“The track program remained viable all those years we didn’t have a track [under Sargent],” Prather said.
Demetrius Bailey—who, up until last week, was an assistant coach for both the track and football teams—is serving as the interim until May.
Under Bailey, the teams’ schedule won’t change.
Prather said there’s potential for the athletic department to do a national search for a permanent coach, but the details of the hiring process won’t be worked out until spring semester.
Bailey said he’s interested in becoming the permanent coach.
“This is a place I’d like to be for a while,” Bailey said.
In the meantime, Prather said choosing Bailey as interim was a “natural” decision.
“The most important thing for me was to make sure that the student athletes had a seamless transition with someone that they would be comfortable with,” Prather said. “And I feel pretty good about that. And I think they feel pretty good about that.”
After 34 years working at Franklin College, Prather said a sudden resignation without explanation isn’t unusual.
“Life circumstances change,” he said. “Sometimes they happen on very convenient schedules with plenty of lead time and all that. But sometimes they don’t.”