LAURINBURG — The allure of teaching and basketball was powerful, according to former Scotland boys’ basketball coach Michael Malpass.
But the chance to spread the gospel proved even more persuasive.
Malpass officially resigned from his post last week to accept a full-time pastor position at New Hope Baptist Church of Laurinburg.
“I’ve been pastoring part time for a year, year-and-a-half, and God’s opened that door,” Malpass said. “The church is really growing and I’m excited about people and felt led to do that.”
The 38-year-old officially filed his resignation last Friday, but will continue to teach social studies at Scotland until next month. He and the school discussed the possibility of him staying on as coach while relinquishing his duties as a teacher, but both sides were unable to reach a consensus.
The job opening is currently posted on the Scotland County Schools website.
“Michael’s decided to follow his passion to do full-time preaching at his church, and we respect that decision,” said Scotland athletic director Richard Bailey. “We appreciate the efforts that Mike’s given to this school the last two years, he’s really changed the culture of our basketball team. We appreciate him doing that and the work and time he put in, because he was a tireless worker.
“Obviously, we’re disappointed but it’s hard to argue with God. God’s calling him and he’s doing what he needs to do for him and his family so we respect that.”
Malpass, who graduated from Scotland in 1995, was hired by the late Tommy Britt two years ago to take over a program that hadn’t won a conference championship in more than a decade.
In his inaugural season, the Scots struggled for much of the season but rallied to finish with a .500 record in Southeastern Conference play.
The next year, led by experienced seniors Travis Miles and Jeremias Easterling, two players Malpass credits for the program’s facelift, the Scots won 15 games en route to the school’s first conference title in 14 years.
“I appreciate the fact that Tommy Britt and Greg Batten hired me two years ago to do the job here,” Malpass said. “I also want to thank (Richard) Bailey for his support as athletic director, and I want to thank the community for coming to games. Our attendance definitely has grown, and I want to thank our support base and my assistant coaches. Most of all, I want to thank the kids for buying in, playing hard and doing everything they could to bring our program back to the place it needs to be … .
“My goals when I was here was to win a conference, be competitive in the playoffs and to get kids in college and help kids graduate. Jeremias is at Sandhills (Community College) and he’s doing well, and all of my basketball players that’s played for me in my two years have graduated from high school.”
Jordan Ratliffe, who transferred to Village Christian Academy in Fayetteville, Miles and Easterling earned all-SEC honors last year, and Ratliffe was named the SEC’s co-Most Valuable Player.
Malpass compiled a 21-21 career record at Scotland, and he mentioned that he is leaving the program on good terms. He said he would love to return to the school in the future should the opportunity arise.
“I will always pull for Scotland and support the people at Scotland,” Malpass said. “This decision was tough because I’ve enjoyed teaching and coaching. I just feel right now it’s really important to share the gospel with people and the world we live in.”
Bailey said Scotland has already taken a number of applications and is looking to bring on a coach that will continue to build on the foundation that Malpass has left behind.
“Our idea is to find a full-time coach that is going to be here for the long haul and hopefully keep the program going in the direction that it is,” he said. “We don’t want to see it digress.”
Logan Martinez can be reached at 910-506-3170. Follow him on Twitter @L_Martinez13.