Los Lunas High School girls basketball coach Mike Jenrette resigned last week after five seasons heading the Lady Tiger program.
Under Jenrette, the Lady Tigers posted a 46-75 record (.380 winning percentage). His Tiger teams were 14-40 (.259) in district games.
Though it was Jenrette who tendered his resignation, he said he didn’t have much choice in the matter.
“It was one of those things where I was not going to be recommended (for re-hire), and I had the option to resign,” he said.
Jenrette said he was told by Los Lunas Schools Athletic Director David Atencio that the administration did not see improvement in the program.
Atencio would not comment directly on Jenrette’s departure, citing it as a personnel matter. “But I will say I was really grateful for the time Mike put in with the girls,” he said. “He did an excellent job trying to develop the program. There are some things he feels he might have done differently. But overall, he had the girls’ best interest in mind.”
Jenrette took over a depleted program in the aftermath of a controversial decision by the Los Lunas School Board not to re-hire Ben Wolfe in 1997.
Starting essentially from scratch with a team made up primarily of underclassmen, the Lady Tigers won just six games in Jenrette’s first two seasons.
The Tigers showed marked improvement the next two years — winning 14 games each season and putting together back-to-back winning years. In 1999-2000 and 2000-2001, the Lady Tigers came within a game of a state tournament berth, but Jenrette was never able to get them over the hump.
This past season, Los Lunas began the year as the fifth-ranked team in Class 5-A, but it stumbled to a 12-14 overall record and managed just one win in District 3-5A.
“I’m disappointed that I’m not going to have an opportunity to continue with the program,” Jenrette said. “I felt we were taking the program to a position where it was now functioning as it’s supposed to be.”
The coach pointed to the depth within the program at the C-team and junior varsity levels as a sign of progress.
Jenrette said he was offered the opportunity to reapply for the job, “but I wasn’t going to do that.”
The coach said philosophical differences he had with the administration also were a factor in his decision to resign. He did not elaborate other than to say, “Unfortunately, my views and my vision differed from those of the administration. The bottom line is I think it came don’t to wins and losses.”
Jenrette said he may have kept his job had the Lady Tigers made the state playoffs this season. “But there’s a lot more to (coaching basketball) than wins and losses,” he said. “We did a lot of good things, and I can’t say enough about the quality of players I had to coach.”
The 43-year-old has been employed as a math teacher with Los Lunas Schools for 23 years. He is a 1976 graduate of LLHS and was a member of the last Tiger boys team to make it to the state tournament — in 1976.
Atencio said the job as the Lady Tigers next head coach is open and applications are being accepted. He said there is no timetable for hiring a replacement.
“I’m not going to rush into anything,” he said. “I’m going to make sure we make the best selection from the candidates. The program has some good qualities, and, hopefully, we can build on those.”
News-Bulletin file photos