Lincoln boys basketball coach Mike Foley moves to girls program, replaced by Rich Marion
In 2008, Rich Marion made left his job as the director of basketball operations at Eastern Michigan to focus on being involved with the high school level of the game.
Having lived in the Ypsilanti area for more than a decade, Marion kept a close eye on what schools and programs he thought would be a great place to coach. One of those schools was Lincoln High School. On Tuesday, Marion officially became the head coach of the boys basketball team at the school.
“I’m excited. This is a program with a lot of potential,” Marion said. “Lincoln was a job in the back of my mind, if it ever became available, I would want a shot at. An opportunity like Lincoln doesn’t come up very often.”
Chris Asadian | AnnArbor.com
The job at Lincoln became available three weeks ago, when former coach Mike Foley stepped down as boys coach because he wanted to be able to watch his daughter, Lincoln junior-to-be Dominique Foley, more during basketball season.
“There comes a time in everybody's life that you have to look at and put things in the degree of importance, and I couldn’t miss her games anymore,” Foley said.
During his eight years at Lincoln, the Railsplitters won back-to-back district titles in 2009-10 and reached a regional final for the first time in program history in 2005.
Fate stepped in for Foley when the girls coaching position at Lincoln opened up after he made the decision to step down. Foley asked if he would be considered for the job as girls coach, replacing Mike Hotchkiss, and Lincoln athletic director Eve Claar accepted.
“I’m not coaching the girls, to just coach (Dominique). Some of the girls in the girls program, I see them in the school and they’re great kids,” Foley said. “When the girls position came open, (Foley and his wife) spoke and it was good timing for me. Not only do I get to watch my daughter play, I get to coach the team, as well.
“I spoke to several of the (boys) players, they understood that family comes first. I don’t think they were too thrilled by me leaving. But with me leaving, the program is going in the right direction, me leaving at this time won’t damper what they’ll capable of doing.”
Claar announced Marion's hiring Tuesday morning and by the afternoon he was meeting with players and parents, trying to get a summer workout program in place.
“I know very little about them except what I’ve heard from folks at Lincoln," Marion said. “I’ve met a lot of great people at Lincoln and I’ve heard lots of great things about the team.”
The Railsplitters were 10-11 last season and 6-6 in Southeastern Conference White Division play.
Marion has spent the last four years as an assistant coach for Rex Stanczak at Pioneer and was the program's junior varsity coach last season.
“I cannot say enough about Pioneer. From the parents to the players to the administration, I met a lot of really good people," Marion said. "It was extremely tough to leave Pioneer for that reason. Coach Stanczak and I have a really great relationship. That’s a first-class program.”
Stanczak is happy to see Marion get a chance to run his own program.
"Rich has been with me for four years and is one of the most knowledgeable basketball guys I’ve been around,” Stanczak said. “Part of my job is, for the guys that want to be head coaches, help them reach that goal. Rich has, so I feel really good for him.”
This is the first head coaching job in Marion’s career. Aside from his time at EMU and Pioneer, Marion was an assistant coach at Dundee from 1997-99 and was an assistant director of media relations at the University of Michigan athletic department from 1997-2005.
Marion said he briefly met with Foley on Tuesday, but is looking forward to sitting down and learning more about the team in the coming days.
For Claar, it was important to head into the summer break with a clear plan and she feels like she has done that with the two hires.
“Our goal was to get somebody in place before school let out," she said. "I know that the parents and students will be very excited. Both programs are in very good hands.”