Salt Lake Community College was hit with a hard loss last Wednesday when it was announced that longtime men’s basketball coach Norm Parrish relinquished his post to join the newly formed coaching staff at the University of Utah.
Parrish, who patrolled the sidelines at SLCC for 20 years, had commented in January that previous opportunities to leave hadn’t been worth it. On Thursday, he said that the chance to be a part of the University of Utah’s staff, where he will work as the Director of Basketball Operations, was one that he felt he needed to take.
“It’s Utah basketball,” Parrish said, referencing the University’s basketball tradition. “I don’t have to move my family. It’s a time where a move just made sense.”
Parrish indicated that he was contacted about the position about two weeks ago, and then received a call from Utes’ new headman Larry Krystkowiak a day later. He received an official offer from Utah last Tuesday.
“It was a difficult decision because this (SLCC) is a really great place and a really good job,” he said.
Reaction from within the athletic department, and from his team, was unanimous with surprise.
“It was kind of a shocker for all of us,” Lady Bruins’ head coach Betsy Specketer said.
“I heard about it on the news,” freshman guard Jordan Bernardo said. “I had to talk to [Assistant] Coach [Todd] Phillips to make sure it was true. We’re happy for him, but sad to see him go.”
Sentiments like that give some clue as to just how great an impact Parrish has had on Salt Lake Community College over the years. Both Specketer and Athletic Director Norma Carr reminisced about the early days of Parrish’s tenure, when SLCC basketball was struggling to garner attention. Now, the program is one of the most respected in the country, with much credit to Parrish.
“What you see with Norm is what you get,” Specketer said. “There’s really no up-and-down to him at all. He’s just rock solid, the same steady type of guy. That’s one of the reasons why he’s been so successful and he’s taken this program to the heights that he has.”
Those heights include over 400 victories, a Coach of the Year award, multiple conference championships, and conquering the highest of mountains in 2009, as Parrish led the Bruins to the National Junior College Athletic Association National Championship.
Noting that of the 24 years he has been involved in coaching, 20 have been at the helm of the Bruins, Parrish said, “It’s been my life. We [he and his family] are Salt Lake Community College. Every experiment I’ve ever done, every coaching philosophy I’ve ever borrowed or used or tried has pretty well happened here at Salt Lake.”
Despite the incredible void that will be left with Parrish’s departure, both Carr and Specketer mentioned that the change has already been, and will continue to be, a positive for the program.
“It’s really a sad thing for us, but it’s an exciting time for Salt Lake Community College…it’s just a credit to him,” Specketer said.
It was initially not clear what direction Salt Lake would go to find Parrish’s replacement, but by Friday, Carr said that the decision had been made to name assistant coach Todd Phillips interim head coach for next season. Phillips has spent three years under Parrish, which were preceded by eight years on the coaching staff at Westminster College. The job will be opened for a nationwide search following the 2011-2012 campaign.