South Portland High basketball coach Phil Conley said he was shocked when he was told in a meeting with school administrators Tuesday that he wouldn’t be asked to return next season.

Conley, 47, resigned Friday after eight seasons as the Red Riots’ coach. South Portland had a 16-4 record last season, advancing to the Western Class A semifinals.

“I loved coaching and planned to be the head coach at South Portland for another 15 years,” he said. “I had all my summer practices and league games lined up. My emotions are running pretty high right now.”

Conley said he was told in the meeting he wasn’t being rehired because of some unhappy players and parents.

“I was too shocked to ask who those players were,” Conley said.

Athletic Director Todd Livingston said of Conley’s resignation: “It’s a personnel issue.”

“I learned that he submitted his resignation Friday afternoon. He certainly had an outstanding career. Phil did a very nice job with the program, ‘Coaching Boys Into Men.’ He really embraced it.

“Phil did a nice job keeping me informed of the disciplinary problems he had this past season. He will be missed by the basketball program.”

Conley shared the SMAA’s Coach of the Year honors this past season with Dan Costigan of Cheverus, who, coincidentally, resigned earlier this spring.

Conley replaced Tony DiBiase as the Riots’ coach in 2007 after 12 years as an assistant under DiBiase.

“I’m proud of my 20 years at South Portland. I have some great memories. South Portland will always hold a special place in my heart,” he said.

Conley earned his 100th career victory last season and finished with an overall record of 108-51. In 2013, he coached the Riots to the Western Maine championship. In the state final at the Augusta Civic Center, the Riots lost to favored Hampden Academy by four points.

With several top players returning, South Portland will be an SMAA favorite next season.

“Whoever inherits this team next season is going to get a contender,” Conley said.

Conley is a physical education teacher at Small and Brown elementary schools in South Portland.

As for his future, Conley said, “I would like to coach again.”


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