Coach Craig steps away from LM basketball

Posted on: March 19, 2020
photo of coach

After nine years of leading Little Miami’s boys’ basketball program, head coach Mike Craig has stepped down.

Craig announced his departure March 11 and leaves behind a total of sixteen years of service to Little Miami basketball, with a 77-125 overall record as head coach.

When Craig became head coach for the 2011-2012 season, he took over a program in crisis. As a district, Little Miami was in dire financial straits and had raised pay-to-participate fees to $651 per player. The district lost 40 percent of its student-athletes during that period to transfers and open enrollment, leaving Craig to have to figure out a way to build a team.

“I was able to take over a program in one of the most trying times in school's history … where some athletes had left Little Miami to pursue other academic and athletic opportunities that were no longer available to them at LM,” he said “Because of this I was able to overcome adversity, grow personally and professionally, as well as develop many lasting relationships along the way.”

In five short years, Craig was able to lead the program through a change in conference and back to a 16-win season, the most wins in nearly 20 years. (And for the record, Craig was a player on that previous 16-win team, under the leadership of LM Hall of Fame Coach Rob Blanton).

“I was excited for the kids to be able to have a similar experience I did as a player at Little Miami. Unfortunately, the last couple of years the program has not had the success from previous years due to various reasons,” he said. The Panthers finished the 2019-2020 season with a 1-22 record.

Currently a Little Miami High School math teacher, Craig was an outstanding Panther athlete in his own right, putting up great numbers in both football and basketball. He ranks second in the top five LM quarterbacks with the most rushing yardage with 608 yards and passed for 1,246 yards his senior year.

“[Coaching at Little Miami] has been an exciting and eventful experience full of many opportunities to grow and achieve many goals in life,” Craig said. “I was able to coach many hardworking and talented individuals, building many positive relationships through my tenure.

“Several players who came back to help coach, and many more who would come back to support the program at games. The impact these young men had on me went far beyond basketball and allowed me to grow a tremendous family.”

Athletic Director Keith Pantling will now begin a search for a new head coach as the Panthers prepare for their first season of competition in the Eastern Cincinnati Conference this fall.

“We are grateful for all of Mike’s hard work and commitment to his alma mater and for his dedication to building positive relationships with his players,” Pantling said. “We will work diligently to recruit the very best coach possible to Little Miami to lead a comprehensive program that demonstrates good character, a healthy competitive spirit, and proudly represents Little Miami as part of the Eastern Cincinnati Conference.”

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