By Jim Workman
Assistant Managing Editor
Former Mountain State University head basketball coach Bob Bolen has been in an unusual situation this season.
The highly successful coach has been watching more games on TV since the demise of his program amid MSU’s closure.
And he is taking his kids to the gym every night - including his daughter Katie’s volleyball games and practices as a freshman at Woodrow Wilson High School.
He has been coaching his son Jaysen’s fifth grade hoops squad and traveling to watch his son Andrew’s third grade team.
A lot of waiting.
Reached Wednesday, Bolen was still processing his options.
Just about everything is on the table, regarding his career path...except coaching a JV basketball team.
Bolen, a Beckley native, became the West Virginia’s all-time leader in men’s college basketball career wins last season, tallying 487 victories from 1993 to 2012. The Cougars made the trip to the NAIA National Tournament 14 straight years from 1999-2012, including four national championship games. Last year’s team advanced to the NAIA Final Four. Over the last 12 years, MSU’s .865 winning percentage is the highest of any NCAA Division I, Division II or NAIA program.
With a resume like that and at a relatively young age of 49, Bolen should have some options.
And he does.
“I’m interested in what UC-Beckley is doing from an administrative standpoint,” he said. “I’d speak with them about a role like that. But I’m not interested in coaching a JV basketball team at all. The only reason that I’d accept an administrative role there is if I didn’t want to leave Beckley.
“I’m just not sure right now.”
UC announced Wednesday that its Beckley-based teams beginning this fall will initially be of junior varsity level, competing under NCAA Division II standards because it is a satellite campus of the University of Charleston.
Application for UC-Beckley to compete in the NAIA was denied.
Bolen’s name will likely be high on a lot of college athletic director’s list of candidates to fill coaching voids that pop up.
“I’ve had some calls from some (NCAA) Division I coaches that already know they have assistants that are leaving (following the current season),” Bolen said. “There are a couple of Division II (schools) that have called too, but they’re not local. I’m fairly certain there will be a job.
“I’m looking for a head coaching position at some level or to become a D-I assistant. It will come down to whether I want to pack up and leave Beckley or not.”
Bolen’s name had been tossed around about several vacant coaching positions down through the years.
“I had some opportunities — some really good — but I’ve always been happy in Beckley,” he said. “I’ve been waiting to see what would happen (in Beckley). Now I can only look forward.”
Although he is foremost a coach, his career could also take another path.
“There are some business opportunities in Beckley too, and that’s a possibility,” Bolen revealed. “Moving away from Beckley...I have some criteria that I’ll need to look at - it would have to be a great place to raise kids and would have to be a place that my family would be happy. Those are the main things.”
Bolen didn’t sound like someone ready to hang up his whistle just yet however.
“I still have a lot of coaching left in me,” he said. “I still love it and miss it. It’s been a blessing, having a year off. I’ve had a chance to spend time with my kids and re-charge my batteries. And I’ve enjoyed it. But I’m going to pursue coaching again.”