Desert Mountain boys basketball coach Todd Fazio is leaving to take over the Red Mountain program, he said Monday.
Fazio led the Wolves to a 25-6 record and a berth in the Division I semifinals this year before losing to eventual champion Corona del Sol. With Rolando Rhymes, Mark Andrews, Will Goff and Remy Smith expected back, the team was going to be one of the preseason title favorites in 2013-14.
However, worries about job stability forced Fazio to look elsewhere. He said a full-time physical education teaching position at Desert Mountain has been tenuous in recent years and the situation has gotten worse.
Fazio will have a full-time teaching spot at Red Mountain.
“For five years I never had a full-time job (promised),” Fazio said. “I had to piece some things together and things tended to work out. This year it wasn’t looking good. Doing that every year, it takes its toll.”
Fazio will replace Greg Sessions, who led the Mountain Lions to a 17-11 record last year and a berth in the state tournament. Sessions was fired after the team lost to Mountain Pointe in the first round of the playoffs.
Red Mountain interviewed 10 candidates for the position, but once it became clear Fazio was interested, speculation was rampant that he would be the new coach. He said it’s tough leaving the Wolves, but at the same time, it’s an exciting prospect to take over the Mountain Lions’ program.
“It’s kind of a weird limbo,” he said.
Fazio led Desert Mountain to a state title in 2007 and the state semifinals two of the past three years.
Even though the Wolves were expected to be a contender in 2013-14, Fazio said the competitive aspect didn’t have a bearing on his decision.
“If the team wasn’t going to win a game it would have been equally as difficult,” he said. “We’re a tight-knit group here. We’re family. Some of these kids I’ve known for eight years... but the kids are resilient. They’ll continue to play. They’ll be fine.”
Alaska star Dane Kuiper was expected to transfer to Desert Mountain before next season, but the coaching change could affect where he ends up. The 6-foot-6 junior averaged 17.4 points and 6.3 rebounds per game last season for Wasilla (Alaska) High.
Red Mountain loses three of its top five scorers to graduation, including Northern Arizona commitment Travis Meeker.