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UPDATE: Marcus Jefferson 'wasn't anticipating' being let go by EC Central
Boys basketball

UPDATE: Marcus Jefferson 'wasn't anticipating' being let go by EC Central

Hammond at EC Central boys basketball (let go)

Marcus Jefferson is out as the EC Central boys basketball coach. He guided the Cardinals for the past three seasons.

The EC Central boys basketball program is headed in a new direction, and it will not include Marcus Jefferson.

Jefferson confirmed to The Times Wednesday night that he was relieved of his coaching duties roughly three weeks ago. He guided the boys basketball team for the past three seasons, and his last game at the helm was a 52-34 loss to Lake Central in the Class 4A EC Central Sectional semifinals on March 6.

"It was a surprise," Jefferson said. "I wasn't anticipating being let go. One of the things I did was monitor the careers of these coaches at East Chicago, going back to John Todd, to Bobby Miles, to Pete Trgovich, to Abe Brown. I think on average, those head coaches probably served about eight years, so I was anticipating serving at least half (of that), maybe a fourth year."

Cardinals athletic director Monica Maxwell also confirmed Wednesday via text message that Jefferson will be replaced. An opening for his former job was originally posted to the School City of East Chicago website on April 15. Maxwell did not disclose why Jefferson won't be returning.

“(Jefferson’s) boys basketball contract has not been renewed, and although I have not started the interview process, I am looking to fill the position ASAP,” Maxwell wrote.

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Jefferson was hired ahead of the 2017-18 season. In his three-year stint, he posted a 34-35 record and was unable to lead EC Central to a sectional title. The Cardinals lost in a Class 4A sectional semifinal every year of his tenure and haven’t claimed a sectional championship since winning back-to-back Class 4A sectional crowns in 2016 and 2017.

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EC Central’s lone winning season under Jefferson’s guidance was the 2018-19 campaign. After starting the season off 0-4, the Cardinals finished the year at 12-11. They never won more than 12 games throughout Jefferson’s time, including a 12-12 record for the 2019-20 season.

Jefferson, who starred at EC Central in the late 1990s, said coaching at a school he once played for came with high expectations. Despite not living up to the hype on the court, he tried his best to steer all of his players in the right direction off of it.

"They talk about student-athletes, but I think I was the best coach for the student-athlete and not the athletic student," Jefferson said. "I can hang my hat up proudly knowing that's my contribution to that program."

After previous coaching stops at Lake Central, Roosevelt and now EC Central, Jefferson is not ready to call it quits. He played college basketball at Providence and Iowa State and hinted at the possibility of stepping up from prep sports.

"It's my passion," Jefferson said. "... Passion has to match passion, and I'm considering coaching at a level beyond high school at this time."

In Jefferson's absence, the Cardinals will try to find some stability within their boys basketball program. Whenever a new coach is selected, it will mark the team's fourth coach in the last seven seasons.

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Lake County Sports Reporter

James Boyd is the Lake County prep sports reporter for The Times. He is a graduate of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a proud native of Romeoville, Illinois. Before anything else, his main goal in life is to spread love and light.

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