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Garner out as North coach

With Tony Watkins stepping down as head girls basketball coach to build the boys program at the new Lanier High School, there were already big changes in store at North Gwinnett next season.

That trend continued Monday with the announcement that Bulldog boys coach Len Garner would not return in 2010-11.

The 60-year-old Garner tendered his resignation after a meeting with school officials last week when it became clear there were different visions in the direction of the program.

"I was basically asked to resign," Garner said Monday, shortly after informing his players. "I guess it's just time for me to move on."

Because Garner is no longer a coach, and with the number of teaching and supplemented coaching jobs available at both North and Lanier set by the county school board, he will also no longer be a teacher at North after the end of this school year.

Garner's resignation is the latest in a string of coaching positions North athletic director Mark Karen must fill for the 2010-11 school year.

"Just looking at the county-supplemented positions alone, I'm probably pushing 10 to a dozen openings of true county-paid coaching positions," Karen said.

He also expressed best wishes to Garner on Monday.

"We appreciate all Len's done over the years as head coach and as an assistant coach to Ralph Nunn," Karen said. "He's provided a lot of service to our community and we wish him the best of luck."

Garner leaves North after compiling a 111-80 record, good for a .581 winning percentage, in seven seasons as head coach.

That mark includes four trips to the Class AAAAA state tournament -- beginning with a state quarterfinal appearance in his first season in 2004 and this year's tournament team that went 17-12.

In addition, the Bulldogs went to the tournament two of the three seasons he served as an assistant under previous coach Nunn.

"I feel very good about that fact," Garner said. "My opportunity here in Gwinnett County has been very exciting and fun, and I've enjoyed the companionship with other coaches and referees and others involved with basketball."

While not sure of what his immediate future holds, Garner said Monday he hopes to find another coaching job.

"Whether it's in Gwinnett County or a private school or somewhere else, I want to be involved (with basketball)," Garner said. "I'm 60 years old, and I want to be involved one way or another. I can't just walk away yet."