JOSHUA — Due to a growing school district along with predicted growth in the future, Joshua ISD has decided to split athletic director and head football coach duties into two separate positions, JISD Superintendent Fran Marek said.
Mike Burt, who has been the Joshua athletic director and head football coach since 2013, will continue to serve as the district’s athletic director but will relinquish head football coaching duties.
“We were looking at the growth our district is experiencing and, as we move into the future with that growth, we also looked at other 5A districts that have one high school and the majority have [athletic director and football coach positions separate],” Marek said. “We looked at 5A schools in our region and there are very few — I want to say Joshua, Everman and White Settlement [Brewer] — are the only ones with the combined positions.
“We make a lot of decisions based on comparative data so we can make good, sound decisions. We just felt like the timing was right to split the positions because of growth and then comparatively looking at other area high schools that are similar size as ours.”
Burt said it was simply the right time to split up the positions, adding being an athletic director at any school, especially at the 5A level, is a full-time job.
“I believe being an AD in Joshua is a full-time job itself,” Burt said. “It’s something me and the superintendent starting shooting around about a year ago; we started talking about growth and the future. You have to constantly plan. There aren’t a whole lot of 5A schools anymore that have a guy that’s head football coach and AD — Cleburne, the Burleson schools, Granbury, Crowley, everybody in our district except us and Everman have split that position.
“There’s a whole lot to keep up with, whether it’s pros or cons, as an AD. When you look at where we’ve gotten this thing to, it’s time to let that be the football coach’s entire focus and not have to worry about being AD. We want the football coach to be able to give their undivided attention to football.”
Burt posted the newly vacant head football coach position on Joshua ISD’s website as well as the Texas High School Coaches Association website on Nov. 17. Since then, Joshua has received tremendous feedback with more than 100 résumés submitted.
“It’s been very positive,” Burt said. “I’ve gotten phone calls from ADs all over the state calling and recommending their people who have applied for the position. It’s exciting for Joshua.”
Marek said the goal is to recommend a new head football coach at the January school board meeting.
“It’s very encouraging to have so much interest because then we can truly get the best person for the position by having that many to chose from,” Marek said. “The amount of interest out there says that people want to come to our school district, that we continue to strive for excellence and to improve in all areas. It’s encouraging that people want to be here and that we have this large pool to find the best person. We’ll have a selection committee and we hope to bring a recommendation to our Jan. 15 school board meeting. That’s our goal.”
Burt said balancing taking time to find the right person while also making sure they get someone in here soon to implement their offseason is a fine line.
“We plan to have somebody by the January board meeting and let that person roll up his sleeves and get to work,” Burt said. “You can’t drag it out but at the same time you can’t pull the trigger too fast. You want to find the right man for the job. It’s a great opportunity for somebody to take it to the next level.”
Burt, who has coached football for 33 years, said relinquishing head football coaching duties comes at the right time for his career but added there will be times he’ll miss it.
“Am I going to miss football? I’m sure I will, yes,” Burt said. “I’m already planning now for next season — how many starters do we have coming back, looking at different things for personnel, thinking about offseason and what we need to accomplish. That’s what you’re doing this time of the year unless you’re still playing.”
When Burt was hired in 2013, he said then the rebuilding process for Joshua football wouldn’t come overnight. And it didn’t. The Owls struggled through a pair of one-win seasons and a winless season at the varsity level. But Joshua broke through with a 4-6 record this season, missing the playoffs by one game.
“We’re very proud of the progress,” Marek said. “You can see how they’ve built it up. That’s one of the things we want to continue. By dividing this position, that gives the football coach complete focus on football.
“We want to continue to improve what [Burt and his staff] have built on. With these four wins this past season, that’s the best we’ve had in 10 years. And you can certainly see the improvement from the middle school up and we want that to continue to improve and grow from there.”
Joshua ISD is also searching for a new head volleyball coach as Burt and Marek both said they want each sport to have its own head coach to fully devote their attention to that sport. Joshua’s head volleyball coach the past two seasons has been Craig Bethell, who is also the head track coach.