On Tuesday night, the South Portland school board put a simmering controversy to rest as they supported the appointment of Phil Conley as the new head coach of the boys basketball team at South Portland High.

“This means a great deal to me,” Conley said. “South Portland is rich in basketball tradition and it’s an honor for me to be the next head coach of the South Portland varsity boys basketball team.”

In June, former longtime coach Tony DiBiase was informed that his contract as the boys basketball coach would not be renewed. This came a month after DiBiase was informed that he would be returning for an 18th season.

Conley was not the first candidate recommended by South Portland superintendent Suzanne Godin. Two weeks ago, Timothy Farrar, who had previously coached at the University of Maine Fort Kent, had been recommended to the school board, but the board refused to support the appointment.

Conley has served as an assistant basketball coach under DiBiase for the last 12 years and has also spent time as a middle school coach and official. Conley is a physical education teacher within the South Portland school system. Conley said he plans to work closely with South Portland youth programs in order to grow the sport.

“I plan to get heavily involved in the youth programs working with the recreation center with the third fourth fifth and sixth grade programs,” he said. “I want to be involved with the middle school programs at Memorial and Mahoney being very visible there and working with the coaches and watching those players grow as basketball players.”

With the first basketball practice of the season just a couple of short months away, Conley is ready to put the hiring process behind him and move on to putting his team together.

“I think it’s very important to put this all behind us,” Conley said. “The season will be here shortly and it’s a very competitive league in the SMAA and we need to focus our attention on the future.”

Phil Conley will be on the sidelines as the new South Portland High School basketball coach this season.

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