After a stroke and back surgery prevented him from coaching the Pickerington High School Central boys basketball team for the second half of this past season, Jerry Francis stayed away, monitoring the Tigers' progress and keeping touch via calls, texts and the media.
He took a similar approach during the team's banquet April 10, attending the event but not saying much.
According to Tigers guard Rodney Culver, among the things Francis did not say to the team was that he had resigned six days earlier, choosing to step back to concentrate on his health and family.
"I found out (April 11) on social media," said Culver, a junior and Division I recruit. "I was somewhat surprised, but I could see it coming. He stepped back for a while after his stroke, and we all figured that would be for the rest of the season. Most of us didn't have much contact with him and we thought maybe he would come back.
"He was a really intense coach. He always coached with heart. We loved that about him."
According to Peg Miller, assistant athletics supervisor at Central, Francis resigned April 4.
Francis, who has returned to his job as an attendance officer at Central, was unavailable for comment.
His resignation ends a tenure in which he guided the Tigers to the 2012 Division I state championship as well as OCC-Ohio Division championships and district titles each of the past three years.
"He understood how to work with kids and get the most out of them," Miller said. "His teams always had a lot of super-talented kids, and he was able to get them to play well as a team and focus on one goal together."
Francis, a Wehrle graduate who played for Ohio State from 1985-89 and scored 1,486 points, was 63-24 in three-plus seasons at Central. His last game coaching Central was Jan. 3, when the Tigers lost to Newark.
Assistant coach Eric Krueger took over in Francis' absence, leading the Tigers to eight wins in as many games and a share of the OCC-Ohio title at 11-3 with Gahanna and Newark. Central finished 20-6 overall, losing to eventual state runner-up Upper Arlington 63-53 in a regional semifinal.
Before taking over at Central, Francis had been an assistant coach at Ball State, Bowling Green, Butler, Houston, Nebraska, OSU and Wyoming from 1992-2006. He was an assistant at Eastmoor Academy in 2006-07 then was an assistant at Oregon State the next year.
According to Miller, applications were accepted until April 16, one week from the date the job was posted both internally and externally.
"We'll need to get someone named soon," Miller said. "The season will be getting going again before we know it."
Culver already knows who he wants to play for next year.
"I'd rather have 'Coach E' (Krueger) get the job," Culver said. "We all know him and he deserves it. He did a great job this year."