ELKHART — Troy Noble's slightly less than two-year tenure as Elkhart Central boys basketball coach concluded Friday, March 7, with a game-day resignation as the Blue Blazers were getting ready to play later the same evening in the Class 4A Elkhart Sectional.
"At this time, after thinking about what is best for my family and the Elkhart Central boys basketball program, I am choosing to resign my coaching position," Noble said in a statement dated March 7 and shared with The Elkhart Truth by school officials.
"As my wife and I expect the birth of our first child in September," the statement continued, "we will embrace our new lives and wish the basketball program nothing but the best in the future."
Noble, 45, and wife Stephanie have been married seven years.
Noble, who has not returned several phone calls regarding his coaching situation, had not guided the Blazers in either of their final two regular-season games, nor had he conducted any of the practices after Feb. 22.
Assistant Scott Sassaman took over as interim head coach.
"It's nothing bad or illegal," Central athletic director Brian Buckley said of why Noble resigned. "He resigned for family matters."
Principal Frank Serge said a number of rumors regarding Noble were beginning to circulate, and he declared such rumors "crazy."
Serge said Noble remains an active instructor at Central, where he has taught physical education and social studies.
"He has been in communication with our (other) coaches," Buckley said of whether Noble maintained a role in the basketball program over his almost two-week absence from practices. "He's provided them game films, strategies."
Buckley, Serge and Elkhart Community Schools director of communication Shawn Hannon all declined to go into detail regarding the unusual timing of the resignation.
"We can't talk about any of that stuff," Hannon said, citing legal guidelines.
During a 3:30 p.m. meeting Friday between ECS officials and The Elkhart Truth, Buckley said he was about to share Noble's letter of resignation with the players, who were playing in the second semifinal game Friday night.
"It's (been) challenging," Buckley acknowledged of the situation, "but I'll tell you, I think our kids and our community have handled it well. When we told (media), 'We can't talk to you,' we couldn't talk to the kids, either, and I think they've done a nice job handling it. Mr. Serge and I have permission to share (the letter) with them, so now a lot of things will make sense to them."
"Our kids have reacted very well," Serge emphasized. "They're not confused at all ... they're focused."
Serge said the head coaching position would be posted upon the season's conclusion.
Citing a desire to give the next coach as much time as possible to prepare, Serge added that an effort will be made to execute a quicker timeline "than in the past." Noble was hired June 11, 2012.
"We have a pretty big vision of what our basketball program can be," Serge said, alluding to Blazer trips to the State Finals in 1978, 1995 and 1999, "and it's going to take a special person to meet the vision."
Central, which won eight sectional titles, four regional crowns and three semistates from 1976 to 2003, took a 5-15 record into Friday's sectional semifinals.
The Blazers finished 6-15 in 2012-13, Noble's first season aboard, and have compiled just one winning mark— 13-11 in 2010-11 — over the last nine years.
Noble, who succeeded Matt Windy, arrived at Central from Tell City in southern Indiana. His six head coaching stops, which include three collegiately and three in high school, have come over a combined nine seasons.