Hillsborough boys basketball coach Stephanie Crawford, a groundbreaking hire for the Terriers three summers ago, won't return for a fourth season.
Hillsborough athletic director Bertha Baker confirmed Crawford, the first female to oversee a major boys varsity program in the county, is being let go because she's not a member of the school's faculty.
Crawford, 41, led the Terriers to an 18-5 mark in her inaugural season, but graduated 13 seniors from that team and managed only seven total victories the last two. Her win-loss record wasn't a factor, Baker insisted.
"We're looking for a teacher-coach," Baker said. "There were no problems, no issues, other than we didn't have a winning season, but that's not the reason."
Crawford said she harbored "no bitterness whatsoever" toward Baker or Hillsborough principal William Orr, thanking them for making the unprecedented move of hiring her.
"It's a direction they're trying to move in and unfortunately, I can't do anything about that," Crawford said Friday evening. "But I'm okay."
A 1988 Countryside graduate and former collegiate guard who spent four years in the Air Force, Crawford was hired over six other applicants for the Terriers' job in June 2009.
She boasted roughly 20 years' coaching experience at the prep and AAU level, and had spent virtually her entire adult life raising kids -- cousins, nephews, wayward prepubescents -- not her own. Current University of Kansas guard Tyshawn Taylor is her godson.
With a stern, tough-love approach reflective of her military background, Crawford immediately employed a dress code, demanded academic excellence and tolerated nary a second of tardiness. The Terriers responded at once, flourishing in Year One before the roster was gutted by graduation.
"After (2010) it was start-over time and the babies had to be pulled up to play varsity basketball," said Crawford, who still works for ex-Buccaneer receiver Michael Clayton's non-profit foundation for youngsters. "So we knew we had some obstacles to climb."
Far more than the 25 victories she amassed, Crawford said she's proud of watching players under her watch rise from ineligibility to honor-student status and developing as young men.
"I'll take that over being undefeated and winning a state title but not being able to graduate or tie a tie or fill out a job application," she said.
Baker said the school has openings in physical education and driver's education for those interested in replacing Crawford.
"It's going to be a change, but hopefully the change will be good," Baker said. "But that is the only reason (for the change) -- I want my coaches on campus."