They came in together, and now they’re leaving together.
Creston High School varsity boys basketball coach Billy Hiatt and girls coach Larry McNutt both resigned their teaching and coaching positions during the past 48 hours.
Hiatt and McNutt each coached three seasons of varsity basketball, succeeding Jim Calkins and Todd Jacobson, respectively.
Hiatt has been success coordinator at Creston High School, and McNutt is a special education teacher at CHS.
McNutt has accepted a similar academic position and will become head boys basketball coach at BCLUW (Conrad) near Marshalltown. Hiatt and his family are moving back to Yukon, Okla., where they still own a house in the Oklahoma City metropolitan area.
Hiatt met with the boys basketball team Friday to inform them of his plans, while McNutt held a team meeting during Monday’s seminar period at the high school. Both said they had good relationships with the CHS squad members, which made leaving a difficult decision.
“I told the guys it has nothing to do with them or basketball,” Hiatt said Monday. “I just think it’s best for our family. My wife and I will both be looking for teaching jobs there, and I have another option out of education, too. As for basketball, I also have an AAU connection there that I’ve already talked to someone about.”
With all-stater Jay Wolfe and others with varsity experience returning, Hiatt said next season should be another strong one for the Panthers under a new coach.
Hiatt’s teams were 39-28. The first team in 2011-12 was 9-13 and tied for fifth in the Hawkeye 10 at 7-6. The senior-laden 2012-13 team went 19-4 and took second behind Atlantic in the Hawkeye 10 with an 11-2 record. With a new lineup last season, the Panthers went 11-11 and placed fourth in the league at 6-4.
“That second year was really special with the success we had,” Hiatt said. “Those guys really pulled together. This year, getting fourth in the conference after graduating everybody, that was a big accomplishment for these guys.”
While wearing an Iowa Hawkeyes jacket Monday, McNutt admitted his new home will be half the distance to Iowa City (90 miles) as well as 45 minutes from the University of Northern Iowa campus and a 40-minute drive to Ames.
“It’s a good opportunity for me, not just for basketball,” McNutt said. “It’s a nice area of the state to live in. Financially, it was a better move for me, with the benefits and everything.”
Before joining the CHS staff, McNutt served as head boys basketball coach at his alma mater, Diagonal High School, in the 2010-11 school year while completing student-teaching assignments in Diagonal and Bedford schools for an education degree awarded by Buena Vista University.
For several years, McNutt served as a special education teacher associate while holding head-coaching positions at Alta (seven years), Boyer Valley (two years) and Audubon (two years). He was also men’s basketball assistant at Mount Marty College in Yankton, S.D., for one year.
He’ll be taking over a BCLUW Comets squad that went 9-14 last season.
“They’ve been competitive and they have nice facilities,” McNutt said. “It’s a large 1A school, with about 200 kids in high school. They are in the NICL with teams like Wapsie Valley, Jesup and West Marshall. It’s a good conference.”
McNutt said it was hard to break the news to his Panther players, however.
“I knew they had heard, and I just wanted to tell them that it was a good opportunity for me,” McNutt said. “It’s a good group of girls.”
McNutt’s first team in 2011-12 tied for fourth in the Hawkeye 10 at 7-6 while going 9-14 overall. That was followed by a 6-17 season and eighth in the conference at 3-10. Last year’s team, relying heavily on juniors and sophomores, went 9-13 and placed ninth in the league at 2-8.
Both vacancies were posted Monday in the district’s email network.