March 20 • 05:44 AM

Basketball coach released

Finkbeiner sees long run with Imlay City draw to a close

May 06, 2009
IMLAY CITY — When the 2009-10 boys' varsity basketball season tips off, the Imlay City Spartans will get things underway without Rick Finkbeiner at the helm of the program.

Finkbeiner, who has coached boys' and girls' basketball at the school for 26 years, found out that news last week when he had a meeting with school officials.

During the 2008-09 season, Finkbeiner reached a milestone when he registered his 400th career victory (boys and girls combined). He has accumulated 207 wins over 13 seasons with the boys and 203 wins in 13 years with the girls.

Imlay City ended the season with a 14-7 overall mark.

The Spartans exited postseason play with a 58-53 loss to Notre Dame Prep in a Class B district semifinal at Almont High School.

Pontiac Notre Dame Prep would go on from there to claim district honors, thanks to a win against Armada.

"Mr. Finkbeiner has coached in Imlay City for many years," Imlay City Principal Stu Cameron said. "I certainly appreciate the time that he has put in and the work that he has done in the past," he noted.

Cameron continued, "We are indeed moving in a new direction in Imlay City. That is not solely in terms of the basketball program, but also in terms of the broader athletic program. Last year an Athletic Council was formed here in the district to review the entire athletic program, examine our core beliefs and articulate Imlay City's philosophy regarding athletics.

"On Monday, April 27, an evaluation meeting with the high school administration and Mr. Finkbeiner was held after school. At the end of the meeting, Mr. Finkbeiner was non-renewed as head varsity basketball coach verbally and in writing. The following afternoon, on April 28th, a request to run an inquiry announcement about two coaching positions, one in cheerleading and one as the head varsity basketball coach, was made to The Tri-City Times. That announcement ran in the April 29th issue of the paper.

"It is never standard practice to post any positions until they have been vacated and this protocol was adhered to and documented in this particular instance. No one here has ever been notified of non-renewal in the newspaper, nor would that ever happen. As unpleasant and uncomfortable as those types of situations may be, I felt it my moral obligation and professional responsibility to have those discussions face to face and in person. This case was no exception. Since the end of last year's basketball situation, we've been working with Rick on improving aspects of his program and his coaching with the shared understanding that there were some revised expectations in place, for basketball and athletics district-wide. It is the responsibility of all our coaches to ensure those expectations, our core beliefs and philosophy, are embraced. I wish great things for Rick in the future, but we will be moving forward with a new coach at the helm next basketball season."

When contacted by The Tri-City Times on whether he had anything to say about the coaching change, Finkbeiner elected not to comment.

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