Fairfield Prep fires Rich Lee as boys basketball coach
Massive changes to Fairfield Prep's athletic department makeup continued Tuesday when the school fired three boys basketball coaches, including head coach Rich Lee.
Lee, the program director for boys basketball at the Wakeman Boys and Girls Club of Fairfield, had been both a football and basketball coach at the school for 12 years. He spent the last six as the head boys basketball coach.
Fairfield Prep athletic director Steve Donahue called Lee at approximately 1 p.m. Tuesday with the news.
"I'm in shock. I'm still in shock," said Lee, 45. "I never saw this coming."
Donahue, now in his second year as Prep's athletic director, said the decision is part of a continuing process to get more faculty and alumni involved in Fairfield Prep's athletic programs. Donahue also based the decision on a year spent evaluating "internal issues and external issues" of Lee's program.
What that means specifically, Donahue wouldn't say.
"It was a multitude of reasons. In the end, we wanted to go in a different direction," Donahue said. "It was a tough phone call to make. We thanked Rich for his time. He's a good guy and nice to talk with. We're just making a change in philosophy, trying to take things a little more in-house and go in a different direction.
"I believe this was for the right reason for our school and our program."
Lee was 67-64 in six years as the head basketball coach. Prep qualified for the state tournament in all but one season, a 6-14 mark in 2009, and reached the SCC tournament three times.
Lee's best year was a 17-4 mark in 2007, though that season ended sourly with first-round losses in the SCC and Class LL tournaments.
Prep's best postseason run under Lee was in 2008, when it reached both the SCC and Class LL quarterfinals. Prep's signature win that year was a 54-51 upset of Hillhouse in the Class LL first round.
"(Donahue) said there had been some negativity, but nothing specific," Lee said. "I'm not naÃ¯ve. I know people are always going to have issues with you as a coach. You always try to evaluate yourself and do what you think is right. I tried to be a loyal guy. ... I don't know. I guess it's the way things are going.
"I had a great time here. Obviously, I'll miss the kids the most. That's what you do this for. I'm still trying to help a couple play in college. They're my main concern right now."