FOR the first time in four years, Bendigo Spirit is on the hunt for a new coach.
It follows confirmation this afternoon the contract of head coach Simon Pritchard will not be renewed for a fifth season.
A former Australian junior coach, Pritchard has led the Spirit to a 36-52 record in his four seasons at the helm.
He will continue to coach the team in its final two games of the season, starting with a Thursday night clash against Adelaide Lightning at Bendigo Stadium.
The Spirit, who enter the week with a 7-12 mark, will round out their season against ladder leaders Canberra Capitals at Bendigo Stadium on January 19.
Bendigo Stadium Limited general manager of sport Ben Harvey believed the timing was right to begin the search for a new coach.
“As we are now out of play-off contention, it’s important we start planning for next season,” he said.
“The new coach will need to bring sound knowledge as well as the skills to instil a culture of success, determination and growth.
“We will commence the recruitment process post the regular season, to give the best opportunity to plan well in advance for the 2019/20 WNBL season.”
BSL chief executive officer Nathan O’Neill publicly thanked Pritchard for his contribution and immense commitment throughout the last four years.
“The WNBL has gone from strength to strength over the past few years, and we need to rise with it,” he said.
“A full post-season review took place last year, as well as partaking in ongoing reviews throughout this season to continue to benchmark ourselves both on and off court.
“Steps have been taken to be a force once again, and we will continue to work on raising the bar in all areas to deliver the ultimate success within the national league.”
“We thank Simon for his contributions, hard work, and sheer commitment during his four year tenure, and we wish him well in his future endeavours.”
Pritchard, who was a WNBL assistant to former Canberra Capitals coach Carrie Graf prior to his arrival in Bendigo, replaced two-tine national championship coach Bernie Harrower in 2015.
He was reappointed for three more seasons at the end of the 2015-16 after the Spirit narrowly missed a finals berth with a 12-12 record.
His best record in Bendigo came in 2016-17 when the Spirit compiled a 13-11 record and missed the finals by just one game.
The Spirit went 4-17 in 2017-18.
Pritchard, who fronted the media at noon today (Monday), and the Spirit will be aiming to snap a three-game losing streak against the Lightning on Thursday.
It follows a narrow two-point loss to playoff bound Perth Lynx on Sunday.
O’Neill used the coaching announcement to call for more fans to back Bendigo’s only national sporting team in the last two games of the season to finish the season on a high.
Have you signed up to the Bendigo Advertiser's daily newsletter and breaking news emails? You can register below and make sure you are up to date with everything that's happening in central Victoria.