VIU Mariners coach stepping down

NANAIMO – Vancouver Island University Mariners men's basketball coach Tony Bryce announced he will step down at season's end.

VIU Mariners men's basketball coach Tony Bryce announces Saturday that he is stepping down at season's end.

VIU Mariners men's basketball coach Tony Bryce announces Saturday that he is stepping down at season's end.

Vancouver Island University’s men’s basketball team was able to finish its home schedule undefeated. But as it turns out, there will be one loss from the VIU gym.

Mariners coach Tony Bryce announced on Saturday that this season will be his last on the VIU bench.

“I’m going to give my heart and soul into this season and then it’s time to move on,” he said.

Bryce is finishing up his sixth season at the university and has his M’s positioned as a playoff favourite this winter. In 2011, the coach led the Mariners to their first provincial championship in 15 years.

He said he didn’t wish to give specific reasons for his departure, but mentioned personal and family reasons.

“It’s not good for my health. It’s a lot of work, especially as passionate as I am and the way I operate … I swear, it’s taken years off my life, the last six years. Sooner or later you’ve got to have a reality check.”

Bryce told VIU’s athletic director Bruce Hunter of his decision about a month ago. Hunter said it will be “big shoes” to fill, and said it’s meant a lot to the athletic department to have such a successful men’s basketball team.

“[It’s] typically one of your flagship programs,” said Hunter. “To have our men’s program at or near the top of the country for the last couple of years has been great for VIU. Tony’s done a very good job of raising the profile of the program, locally and nationally.”

There are no coaching candidates currently being considered to take over the Mariner men. Hunter said the university will advertise to try to fill the post.

“I’m sure we’ll be able to bring in another talented and energetic person and keep the program up to that profile it’s gotten,” he said.

Bryce said he hopes the M’s stay strong, as he looks forward to attending games and wants to see a winning product.

“I wish I could have stayed another 10 years but it’s just not the right thing for me right now,” he said. “I’m quite content with my decision. I know I’m going to be lost for a while because this is what I know and what I love. But I’ve got to do what’s best for me.”

COURT SHORTS … The Mariners men’s basketball team defeated the University of Northern B.C. Timberwolves 76-71 Saturday at the VIU gym. For an action photo and game story, please check back at tomorrow (Feb. 13).