published Wednesday, October 16th, 2013

Bradley Central basketball coach Kent Smith taking leave of absence

CLEVELAND, Tenn. -- Bradley Central boys' basketball coach Kent Smith is taking a year's leave of absence from the program, he confirmed Tuesday morning.

Smith, who is 428-145 since taking over the Bears in 1996, cited a hip-replacement surgery he had in July and upcoming dental work as major reasons for his decision. Longtime assistant Chuck Clark will assume head coaching duties in his absence.

"Emotionally, I just don't think that I can put forth the 12-14-hour work days that it takes to be successful," Smith said. "I can't ask the kids to be vested emotionally if I'm not."

He admitted he didn't like the timing of the decision, as official practice starts on Oct. 28. Bradley Central principal Todd Shoemaker and athletic director Turner Jackson both encouraged Smith to take a temporary leave, as opposed to retiring -- a decision he comtemplated early in the process. Then on Monday, he had a change of heart and considered coming back before making the final decision Tuesday.

"I chickened out yesterday. I told myself that I can't just walk away," Smith said. "But I kept thinking about it all day long, and at the end of the day, there's no faking effort, and I just don't think that mentally or physically I'm ready to coach right now."

Contact Gene Henley at ghenley@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6311. Follow him at twitter.com/genehenleytfp.

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