Hawks coach Zico Coronel will not be at the helm of the Hawke's Bay franchise team for the National Basketball League campaign next year.
Franchise board chairman Keith Price says Coronel informed them last week he was ending his tenure in Hawke's Bay and putting his feelers out for a stint abroad.
"He did inform us that he was looking for a franchise outside of New Zealand and that he was pretty busy with the New Zealand Breakers," says Price of the former high schoolteacher who has had two seasons here after getting his break as a head coach following more than a decade as a multiple NBL title-winning career assistant coach.
The Napier City councillor says the Taylor Corporation-sponsored Hawks have advertised on the NBL website for a new mentor with applications closing on October 31.
"We've had quite a bit of interest with around six to eight [applicants]."
Price says they have received phone calls from Bay hopefuls but a few of the written ones are from out of town with the majority from overseas.
"Going by the CVs there are some pretty good applicants so we feel pretty good about the fact that we'll replace him with a pretty high calibre coach."
He says the Hawks had had an unofficial understanding the team were going to stick together but that was right after the 78-68 losing NBL final to the Wellington Saints in Christchurch in late July.
"We were hoping that we would keep together the bulk of the team but ... Zico's been good for us and I think we've been good for him, too."
He says perhaps another year would have been more beneficial for Coronel because he's just beginning to grow into that role but it's, ultimately, his choice.
"I would imagine he's following something that is a lot more financially viable for him than coaching the Hawks and we just can't match it."
Price says the goal is to appoint a successor to Coronel, of New Plymouth, as soon as possible because the new coach will have a say on the make up of the team for next season.
The 35-year-old is based in Auckland after "living the dream" when the Breakers appointed him as an assistant to help the franchise prepare for the 2019-20 Australian National Basketball League (ANBL) season.
The Breakers have new head coach Dan Shamir at the helm but another assistant, Mike Fitchett, resigned six days before the Breakers begun their ANBL campaign. They have lost both of their games this season to date.
Last NBL season, Coronel employed a fan-pleasing, three-point philosophy to take the Hawks from semifinals in 2018 to the final this year although he had lamented the gulf in resources when juxtaposing a Bay franchise with an elite one such as the Saints.
The Bay province has won only one NBL crown in its history — under the tutelage of Shawn Dennis.
Price says the Hawks position, as it it is for most NBL ones, is often an ideal off-season stint for ANBL assistants because franchises here can't pay "big money".
It's unclear if Coronel's first assistant, Morgan Maskell, also an administrator with the amateur Basketball Hawke's Bay, or second assistant Kaine Hokianga will remain in the equation under the new regime.
Neither Coronel nor Maskell had responded to questions by the time the story was posted on the website.
In another franchise change, Price's wife, Amy, will assume the fulltime mantle of running the Hawks, after taking a year off from her occupation as head of language at Karamu High School.
"She and I ran the team last year but she was working and helping me," he says.
Former radio announcer Kevin Wagg, of Napier, was the last fulltime administrator of the Bay franchise.
The intention is to build on the base established last year with the principal sponsors returning with blessing of owner Kelvin Taylor and his son, Cameron, joining the franchise board. Pak'nSave Hastings owner Brendon Smith also is a major coup for the franchise as a marquee contributor next season.