Vic Mitchell, who helped shape women’s athletics at Shorter University for nearly three decades, is stepping down as the head coach of the Lady Hawks’ basketball team.
The school announced late Wednesday that Mitchell, who has served for 27 seasons at the helm of Shorter’s women’s basketball program, has decided to resign and accept a position outside of coaching. He was the longest-tenured head coach at Shorter and compiled a record of 440-370.
“Obviously, after 27 years at Shorter, this decision has been difficult,” Mitchell wrote in a statement released by the school Wednesday. “I have been offered an opportunity outside of coaching, and at this time in my life and career, I wish to go in a different direction.”
Mitchell is a three-time conference Coach of the Year, having received the honor last in 2012 after leading Shorter to a school-record 28 wins. He coached teams to four appearances at the NAIA Division I National Tournament, including three straight from 2009 to 2012 and recorded his 500th career win on March 1, 2016.
“I know that coach Mitchell loves Shorter and his team and his teams through the years,” Shorter interim athletic director Aaron Kelton said in a release. “We want to be sure his legacy is recognized. He has built a great legacy at Shorter. Because we are believers, we know God has a great plan for him and for his life. He is a great person, a great coach and manager, and a friend. We wish Vic the very best.”
Mitchell also served as a health and physical education instructor at Shorter for 26 years, head women’s softball coach for three years, started the program and served as head coach for women’s cross country for five years, and started the program and served as head women’s golf coach for five years.
He was senior associate athletic director for eight years and was the health and physical education coordinator for 11 years.
Mitchell’s departure leaves another Shorter head coaching position vacant. A glance at the athletic department’s staff directory on its website shows no one listed as the head coach of men’s basketball, men’s soccer, golf and women’s lacrosse.
Kelton, who was hired as the Hawks’ head football coach in early 2016, took over as interim athletic director in January, replacing Kim Graham, who had served as athletic director since May 2015.
In a statement, Mitchell noted he will miss the relationships he had with his assistant coaches and players most, adding that it was the knowledge that he would not get to coach the returning players next season that “contributed heavily to the struggle I have faced reaching my decision.”
He expressed his gratitude toward former Shorter tennis coach Walt Attaway, Dr. Richard Cowan and former Shorter president James Jordan, who hired Mitchell after he had served as the head women’s coach at Reinhardt University for six seasons.
“It was the best professional decision I ever made, and no one could ever change that,” Mitchell wrote. “I will always be a Shorter Lady Hawk fan. Fly Hawks!”
For the last two decades Mitchell had coordinated the Shorter Breast Cancer Awareness Classic, which raised more than $100,000 for Breast Cancer Research.
“We are grateful for the tradition of excellence that coach Vic Mitchell has built for women’s basketball over his 27 years as head coach at Shorter University,” Shorter University President Dr. Don Dowless said in a release. “He is greatly loved by players past and present and has made a tremendous impact on the lives of these young women.”
Complete statement from Vic Mitchell:
“After much thought and consideration, I have made the decision to resign as head women's basketball coach at Shorter University. Obviously, after 27 years at Shorter, this decision has been difficult. I have been offered an opportunity outside of coaching, and at this time in my life and career, I wish to go in a different direction.
“I have just completed my 33rd year as a head women's collegiate basketball coach, and I can honestly say that coaching is the only thing I have ever wanted to do. For me, it has never been about the wins, although it is important to do the best you can with the resources you have. Without a doubt, it is the relationships that I will miss more than anything else. The wins are fun but fade, while the relationships are impactful, rewarding, and everlasting.
“There are far too many relationships to single out in this statement, but I do want to say how much I will miss the comradery with my assistant coaches and the players I have been blessed to coach more than anything else. These are the people you prepare to go to battle with every day and giving up those coach/player relationships is incredibly difficult. In fact, knowing I will not get to coach the returning players next season has contributed heavily to the struggle I have faced reaching my decision.
“Having stated all the above, I am so appreciative and thankful for the opportunity I was given by the late Coach Walt Attaway, the late Dr. Richard Cowan, and then Shorter College president, Dr. James Jordan, in the fall of 1990 when they hired me to be Shorter's head women's basketball coach. It was the best professional decision I ever made, and no one could ever change that. I will always be a Shorter Lady Hawk fan.