SFU men’s basketball head coach James Blake resigns

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Image courtesy of Ron Hole (SFU Athletics).
Image courtesy of Ron Hole (SFU Athletics).
Image courtesy of Ron Hole (SFU Athletics).

SFU Athletics announced today that James Blake, who has served as the head coach of the men’s basketball program for five years — and the entirety of the time the team has been in the NCAA — has resigned.

Blake called the choice to move on a mutual decision between himself and SFU Athletics. He did note, however, that he was “very shocked” to leave the team he has coached for five years.

“It’s a little bit on their side, it’s a little bit on our side, [but] their side I was a little bit shocked with, that’s all I can say,” said Blake. “I thought that we had a good year, but unfortunately, I think it’s based on a five-year period that I was at Simon Fraser, and unfortunately we didn’t win enough games.

“That’s the problem with this business: it’s a performance-based business — [that’s] both the problem and the success of it.”

Blake express some frustration about leaving after the team’s best season in its NCAA history — going 6–12 in the conference, and leading the whole NCAA Division II in scoring. “It was a fun team to watch,” he noted. “I don’t know what else they expected, if you score 105 points a game, and I think sometimes when non-athletic people make athletic decisions, this is what you get.”

“I have accepted James’ resignation, and I want to thank him for all of his hard work during our transition into NCAA,” SFU’s athletic director Milt Richards said in a press release. “James spent five years putting our program in a position to successfully compete at the NCAA DII level in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference and I wish him well in the future. James is an excellent recruiter who will be an asset to any program he chooses to lead.”

Blake took over the program in 2010, when 15-year veteran head coach Scott Clark left the program to coach at Thompson Rivers University. The Clan were entering their first year in the NCAA, a challenge that intrigued Blake, who had spent nine years coaching in the NCAA with American schools.

“I walked into this thing not knowing what to expect,” he reflected. “I was excited about a Canadian school going to the NCAA [. . .] the first couple of years were so tough because of the transition period, I never expected it to be that hard, but if I’m ever put in that situation [again], I’ll know exactly what to do.”

SFU Athletics announced that it “will immediately begin an international search to find the next head coach.”

So, what’s next for Blake?

“You know what, I just found out, so I don’t know,” responded the now former head coach. “I’m really excited about spending time with the family, and being a tourist in my own town, and taking my wife and my baby for a walk on the seawall.”