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Budget cuts claim 44-year Texas hoops coaching veteran

Across the country, any number of school departments are facing deep cuts to reach their projected budgets for the 2011-12 school year. One fairly common tactic to eliminate some higher salaries is to force out employees deemed "retire/rehires", teachers who retired from the district once, only to be rehired at a later date.

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Western Hills basketball coach Jim Wall

Western Hills basketball coach Jim Wall

The tactic is intended to protect teachers who haven't had a chance to retire with benefits once yet, but according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram's Drew Davison, it also claimed one of the Fort Worth district's most legendary coaches: Fort Worth (Texas) Western Hills basketball head man Jim Wall.

According to the Star-Telegram, Wall retired in 2002 after undergoing heart surgery. He was rehired shortly thereafter and led Western Hills to one of the greatest seasons in school history in 2006-07, when the Cougars reached the Class 4A regional semifinals.

In all, the legendary coach has spent 44 years on Texas sidelines.

"Coaching basketball is the only thing I've done," Wall told the Star-Telegram. "It's one of those things you've done for so long because you love it so much. It was good to me when I was a kid, and that's why I got into the coaching profession. Unfortunately, 44 years doesn't get you much loyalty."
Wall said he only retired the first time to ensure that his wife could receive his retirement annuity if something happened during or after his heart surgery procedure. While it's unlikely that Wall will be able to get another position in the district, he said he doesn't hold a grudge against the Fort Worth ISD, he also made it clear that he feels the timing of his release was unfortunate heading into a school year where he thinks his team can compete for a district title.

"The biggest frustration I have is that I've got a real nice team coming back, the best team since I've been there," Wall said. "Hopefully, they give the job to my assistant, Vernon Coleman. That would help knowing that a guy who played for me got the job."

Fort Worth schools athletic director Kevin Greene said nobody has been named Wall's replacement.

In the end, it's simply a tough way for Wall to leave a job he had no desire to.

"I think they should offer all the retire/rehire people a chance to come back at an entry-level salary," Wall said. "Because I would take it. I love coaching basketball."

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