Rich Basirico would understand if those associated with Hilton Head Preparatory School were frustrated. But forgive the Dolphins' athletics director if he doesn't share the same sentiment.
Basirico has spent the last two months searching for Prep's next football coach -- the fourth in two years at the school. But he so far has been unable to fill the position, despite extending official offers to three candidates to date.
"I've been positive throughout," Basirico said. "I know the players and the Prep community are as anxious to have a new football coach on board as I am. It's surely not from a lack of effort from all parties in place."
Basirico has faced the daunting task of replacing head coaches for the school's football, volleyball, and both basketball programs this spring. He's been able to fill each position except for football, which has been without a coach since Kevin Orford departed in April to focus on his Virginia-based business.
"It's a long process, but it's been a good process," Basirico said. "I know a lot of people think that we're kind of behind the eight ball here, but we don't want to rush into anything."
Basirico said all three candidates who pulled out of contention did so due to personal reasons. One withdrew to focus on his ailing mother while another was unable to sell his house in the Northeast. The final candidate decided against leaving his job in a public school.
"Things just haven't worked out," Basirico said.
An out-of-state candidate is set to interview with school members this morning and another applicant already has visited Prep, Basirico said.
"We're going to make the right choice and the right decision for our players," Basirico said. "We want it to obviously be a good fit both ways. We thought we had good fits for the other ones."
Basirico met with members of the football team in May before conducting another meeting with them Wednesday. The Dolphins' AD has tried to keep the team updated on the coaching status, but regretted putting a timetable on a decision last month, he said.
"They're student-athletes and they want to know who their new football coach is," he said. "Are they frustrated? I'm sure they are. They want to meet the coach, they want to get to know him. The coach wants to get to know the players.
"I just met with the football players yesterday and explained again to them that this is an ongoing process. We're doing our best job possible to get the right fit, the right person. It has nothing to do with people coming in saying 'We don't like the program.' "
That hasn't stopped a handful of players from leaving, however. A few have already transferred to Hilton Head Island High School and plan on playing for the Seahawks this fall.
Basirico couldn't say how many in all have left the school, but the parents of tailback/linebacker Scott D'Amico and quarterback/linebacker Jeremy Haidon both confirmed their sons were heading to Hilton Head High.
"It's always disappointing when a member of the Prep family leaves, regardless of if they're an athlete or not," Basirico said. "It's always disappointing. But we understand people have their reasons for leaving."
Basirico said he had no timetable on when a hire will be made but reiterated the school's desire to find the right fit. He added that SCISAA has permitted the Dolphins to hold their spring practices during the summer once a coach has been named.