The face of the basketball programs at South Gwinnett High School will undergo a major change for the 2009-10 school year as both girls head coach Mike Allison and boys head coach Emmett Rouse have resigned.
Allison confirmed his resignation as coach of the girls team Wednesday, ending a coaching career at South that has also included stints as the Comets' softball and golf teams dating back to 1983, though he will remain at the school as a physical education teacher.
Allison said a number of factors played into his decision.
"I probably just needed to get away (from coaching)," Allison said. "I lost my sister in December and my daddy in May. On top of everything else, it's been a tough year. So, it seemed like a good time to get away from it for a while."
While Allison experienced success with pretty much every team he coached, including leading the softball team to a Class AAAA state championship in 1997, it is the girls basketball team which he made the biggest impact with after taking over as head coach in 1986.
He guided the Comets to 400 wins over the next 23 seasons, with victory No. 400 - a 52-50 South win over Snellville-rival Brookwood on Feb. 4 - turning out to be his last.
Along with all the wins came five region championships and eight state tournament appearances, including the 1995 Class AAAA state title and Class AAAAA state runner-up finishes in 2006 and 2007.
While the decision to step away from the program was a difficult one, Allison did not shut the door on possibly returning to coaching at some time in the future.
"(Leaving the Comets' program) is tough for me emotionally," Allison said. "Since 1983, I've been a coach (at South) in one capacity or another. I love South Gwinnett High School. But ... it's a good time for me to step away right now.
"It's sad, but we'll see what happens. There may still be some (coaching opportunities) down the road."
Allison is not the only basketball coach South will have to replace.
Neither Rouse nor South principal Clay Hunter could be reached for comment. However, a spokesman for Gwinnett County Public Schools confirmed on Wednesday that Rouse was no longer employed with the school system as of May 22.
There has been speculation for several weeks that Rouse was seeking a job closer to his family, which lives near the Augusta area.
Rouse built a 39-16 record in his two seasons at South, including guiding the Comets to a 25-6 record, their first Region 8-AAAAA championship in four years and a berth in the Class AAAAA state quarterfinals this past season.