By KEVIN HARRIS
NORTH VERNON —
Mike Broughton’s return to coaching the sport he loves has unfortunately been cut short.
On Wednesday, Jennings County Schools superintendent Terry Sargent announced that the former Jeffersonville High School boys’ basketball coach is taking a temporary leave of absence from coaching the Jennings County High School boys’ team because of medical concerns. It was Broughton’s first season on the Panthers’ bench.
In a phone interview on Thursday afternoon, Broughton said he has been dealing with health issues off and on for the past 10 years. He did not reveal any specifics about his current medical condition.
“I’ve got to take care of some medical issues so I can watch my grandkids grow up,” the 2012 Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame inductee said. “I don’t know what the future holds for me.”
Broughton, who continues to serve as Jennings County’s athletic director on a limited basis, will serve as a varsity assistant coach when he is ready to return to coaching. Joey Hartwell, an assistant under Broughton at Jennings, is currently serving as the interim head coach.
“It depends on how I feel,” Broughton said about when he will resume coaching. “I might be on the bench some [when he returns].”
Broughton became Jennings’ coach just before the start of the school year after a coaching search to find the Panthers’ next boss produced no worthy candidates. Broughton succeeded former Jennings coach Bob Howe, who retired from coaching.
“At the end of the summer, no coach could be found so they asked me to coach,” Broughton said. “I thought about it for a few days and decided to take over.”
Jennings County played two games under Broughton this season, producing a 1-1 record. The Panthers lost their season opener at New Palestine on Nov. 21, 58-55. But they bounced back last Saturday in their home opener with a 68-45 victory over East Central.
“The team has worked hard, but they’ve got a long way to go,” said Broughton, who inherited a Panther squad that went 11-12 last season.
Two years ago, Broughton got offered one of the most prestigious coaching jobs in the state at Marion, which has won seven state championships. But Broughton turned the job offer down.
“I thought my coaching career was over after that,” Broughton said.
Broughton coached at Jeff from 1990-2000, compiling a 210-40 record in his tenure. His winning percentage of 84 percent for the Red Devils is an all-time Jeff record.
Broughton guided Jeff to seven sectional championships, five regional titles and three semi-state crowns. His greatest achievement in his coaching career was leading the Red Devils to their lone boys’ basketball state championship in 1993.
Prior to coaching at Jeff, Broughton coached at Hebron, his high school alma mater, Rushville and Castle. In his 22 seasons as a high school coach, Broughton compiled a 351-146 record.
After his Red Devil coaching tenure, Broughton was an assistant men’s basketball coach at the University of Nebraska and then the head men’s coach at Southern Nazarene University in Bethany, Okla.