Jeff Hicks, the head boys basketball coach at Liberty High School, is not expected to coach the 2018-19 season.
Reasons for Hicks' absence are not clear. Assistant coach Matt Bhone said he was notified on Tuesday that he was taking over the Patriots.
Liberty athletic director Tim Davis said Hicks, who was also a math teacher at the school, is not allowed on any Kern High School District campus at the moment, but declined to comment further.
Erin Briscoe-Clarke, pubic affairs officer for Kern High School District, said Hicks is on paid admistrative leave. Since it's a personal matter, Briscoe-Clarke said, she could not comment further.
A search of recent arrest records did not turn up Hicks' name.
Bhone, who has been an assistant coach at Liberty since the summer, said he has taken over the program.
“We talked to the boys yesterday. That is the plan moving forward,” Bhone said. “We want the boys to get the best season they can have. This is a tough situation.”
The potential loss of Hicks is noteworthy. The Patriots are one of the area’s top teams with arguably the city's top player in point guard Isaiah Hill.
Last year the Patriots finished the season with a 23-5 overall record and an 8-2 mark in the Southwest Yosemite League. That was good for second place overall in the league standings, one game behind Bakersfield High.
The team advanced to the second round of the Central Section Championships, losing by two points to eventual champion Fresno-Central.
Hicks, a 2009 Liberty graduate, was on the cusp of entering his third season with the program. He has a career 46-14 record with the school.
“My job at this point is to get these boys ready,” Bhone said. “These kids have a ton of heart and it's a special group of kids. We are going to come together.”
Liberty opens the season Nov. 24 at Clovis East.