Enquirer News Update   -   Updated 6:40 p.m.

NKU's Shields says this is his last season



By Ryan Ernst
The Cincinnati Enquirer

HIGHLAND HEIGHTS - Northern Kentucky men's basketball coach Ken Shields, entering his 16th season at the helm of the Norse, announced today he will retire from his position at the end of the upcoming season.

Ken Shields
Ken Shields announces today that he will retire as NKU basketball coach at the end of the 2003-04 season.
(Patrick Reddy photo)
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Ken Shields
Shields hugs his son-in-law, Patrick Smith, after the announcement.
(Patrick Reddy photo)
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"The bottom line is, I thought this was a good time," said the 61-year-old Covington native. "I'll miss it. I'll miss it tremendously. But I thought this was the time and I'm very comfortable with it."

Going into his final season, Shields has a 290-155 mark at the school. He led the Norse to back-to-back Division II national championship games in 1996 and 1997. In 1995, Shields was Division II coach of the year.

He also coached 23 years in high school -- 10 at St. Thomas and 13 at Highlands -- and became the all-time winningest boys basketball coach in Ninth Region history with a record of 460-257.

In the past, Shields has discussed the possibility of returning to high school coaching following his retirement from NKU. Today, he said such plans are "possible, but I wouldn't say probable."

Instead, Shields plans to stay on as an NKU faculty member as a part-time teacher.

Shields said he feels his assistants are "prepped very well" for the task of taking over the program, though Athletic Director Jane Meier said the school will first undergo a national search.

"It will start in February and we hope to have interviews in mid-March and hope to have someone by the first of April," she said.

Meier said she could not comment on potential candidates.

The Norse open their season Nov. 7 vs. Kennesaw State in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.