Rob Davis is tired of hiring basketball coaches.
The Smith-Cotton athletic director expressed relief Tuesday with the announcement of three new head coaches, including the addition of State Fair Community College head men’s basketball coach Kevin Thomas, after the Sedalia School District 200 Board of Education approved hiring the candidates.
Thomas succeeds another former Roadrunner coach, Bill Barton, who led Smith-Cotton’s 2016-17 campaign in an interim role.
Lady Tigers softball and volleyball also added familiar faces. Hillary Owens was promoted to head softball coach and Otterville’s Diane Shipley will head S-C volleyball.
For Davis, hiring Thomas ends a longtime search for a long-term answer at the position.
“I have contacted him every time we’ve had an opening for about the last seven or eight years,” Davis said. “Every time we’ve had an opening I’ve contacted him to see if he was interested. He was wanting to be a college coach at the time, but he was always a guy on the backburner that if he’s willing, it’s a slam dunk.
“He knows the politics and dynamics in Sedalia.”
Thomas finished his seventh season at State Fair with a career record of 119-92. The move is low maintenance regarding his residence, family’s education and, with overlap between the State Fair and Smith-Cotton booster clubs, professional connections.
“I really appreciate my time at State Fair,” Thomas said. “There was a lot of good people over there at the college … I will still continue to have a lot of the same relationships with the same people.”
Among a collection of names to recognize — SFCC athletic director Darren Pannier, former assistant coach Josh Sash and facilities assistant Poncho Rodriguez — Thomas emphasized the support from his wife, Taylor Thomas.
“She sacrificed a lot for me,” Kevin said. “She’s been nothing but supportive. With me being home more, I get a chance to support her as well.”
During the hiring process, Davis said Thomas, Shipley and Owens underlined a common goal: rejuvenating youth programs local to Smith-Cotton.
“That was key for all three of those people,” Davis said. “All three came in with a plan when we interviewed them.”
Shipley led the Otterville Lady Eagles to a 7-13-1 finish in 2016. She takes over a Smith-Cotton program also replacing a coach that served one season. Chad Harter and last year’s Lady Tigers went 12-13-1 in the fall.
Owens, a University of Central Missouri graduate, takes over for Janeil Draffen after four years as assistant coach. The Lady Tigers finished 5-19 last fall.
Alex Agueros can be reached at 660-826-1000, ext. 1483 or on Twitter @abagueros2