Like LeBron James, Kenrick Liburd is going home to continue his profession in basketball.
The circumstances are entirely different, however. Liburd, the women's basketball coach and athletic director at Tennessee Temple University, has had to resign those posts and will be returning to his native England because his six-year H-1B work permit has run out and the process of obtaining a permanent-resident green card appears to be months from completion.
Randy Crawford, the softball coach who recently added the title of assistant athletic director, has been promoted to AD at the school where he began his college studies.
"I'm real excited about it," Crawford, 58, said Saturday. "Coach Liburd had set up a real good program with our athletics. In the last two years I've seen it really turn around, and I'm just wanting to continue what he started. He had some big plans set up for us, and we're going to continue those.
"But it's a big job. This has already increased my prayer life," Crawford added with a laugh.
The East Ridge High School and University of Tennessee at Chattanooga graduate has coached Lady Crusaders softball for three years after a long career as a teacher and coach in the Hamilton County school system, but "this is home," he said of Temple.
"I think Kenrick has been preparing me for this for the last several months," he added.
"While we are saddened by the departure of Coach Liburd, we are confident the Lord has new blessings in store for him and his family," Temple president Steve Echols began in an email to the Times Free Press. "The entire TTU family is grateful for Coach Liburd's superb tenure at our university. He brought our athletic program to a higher level in every respect and has built an excellent foundation for the future.
"He has earned great respect from not only the TTU constituency but also the community at large. He has reflected what TTU is all about, seeing lives transformed in Christ."
Liburd, 34, attended college in Maine and coached there for two years, plus another four years at the high school level, before coming to Temple. He actually had a delay in his work permit being reassigned -- the employer, not the individual, petitions for the foreign worker -- and arrived in October of his first TTU term. In addition to women's basketball he coached men's and women's soccer for a while and has been Temple's AD about 15 months.
His wife, Tina, came to work in the States after he did, so she still is employed at Temple and Kenrick's current status is H-4 as the spouse of an approved foreign worker. They have a 12-week-old daughter.
Coach Liburd will begin work Sept. 1 with the Barking Abbey program of Britain's first Regional Institute of Basketball -- specifically working under former national team coach Mark Clark with the Division I women's program and players in the academy. The institute has 63 players who have made national team appearances from the junior to senior level, according to the Barking Abbey website, and has had 53 students receive college scholarships in the United States since the academy was created in 2005.
"We were still waiting on the permanent process [for the green card], and that would be three to four months at the least -- maybe even quite longer," Liburd said. "That didn't work for either party.
"But I have loved it at Temple and we have loved our time in Chattanooga," he said. "I feel we have seen great improvement in the teams I directly worked with -- we had winning seasons the last two years in women's basketball, and we now have about 60 boys and girls in our soccer program -- and it was an exciting opportunity to be an athletic director at such a young age.
"It has been a fantastic experience and I've been blessed by so many people, including Dr. Echols. I have been lucky to work with some great coaches and we've worked with some young coaches who have developed and grown as we've grown as a program. And I feel great about Randy Crawford and the job he will do."
Monique Blanding will move up as interim women's basketball coach, and two of Liburd's former players, Shayla Wilson and Jessica Salera, will be her assistants -- Wilson as associate head coach.
Contact Ron Bush at email@example.com or 423-757-6291.