Tony Amundsen will be approved as Clovis North’s boys basketball coach Wednesday by the Clovis Unified school board in a high-profile switch that’s become as given as it is comical, really.
Unless, of course, you’re associated with Bullard’s program, which is taking a hit unlike any in school history in regard to coaches.
Consider my exchange Friday night with Clovis North athletic director Eric Swain at the state track and field meet at Buchanan:
Me: “So, Eric, is the Amundsen hire official?”
Swain (smiling): “The forwarded candidate will be approved Wednesday by the board.”
Me (laughing with the most rhetorical question of my 40-year reporting career): “So, who’s the ‘forwarded candidate?’”
Swain (laughing): “Cmon, buddy.”
And away goes Amundsen, who made that intention clear two weeks ago, when he told The Bee he wanted the Clovis North job because of an “overwhelming factor” — his family of five lives in that school’s attendance area. Further, that his oldest child, fifth-grader Cadee, will be on campus with him in the fall of 2014 at the Clovis North Educational Center, which combines Granite Ridge Intermediate and the high school in northeast Fresno at International and Willow Avenues.
What an enormous blow for not only Bullard, but the County/Metro Athletic Conference and Fresno Unified School District as well.
Understand this: A typical tenured teacher/coach in the district makes about $75,000.
Amundsen is worth double that, if not more, considering the following his teams have drawn from home to road to Selland Arena in a 119-38, five-year career with three consecutive Division I titles at the school.
There’s no doubt Bullard, a melting pot for basketball talent not only within its attendance area but Fresno Unified (see transfers), will replace Amundsen with a quality coach.
But, as Knights athletic director Doug Finks says, “You can’t bottle lightening.”
And Amundsen brought serious thunder and lightening to a program that not long ago could hosted a card game (one table, 10 players) at its home games.
Past couple years? Routine turnaway crowds of around 1,500.
“Tony has created a Bullard community phenomenon,” Finks says. “What he’s done transcends basketball.”