Legendary HHP coach, AD Basirico announces retirement after 42 years

A Lowco legend is hanging it up after more than four decades. Longtime Hilton Head Prep basketball coach and athletics director — mainstay in the local sports scene for 42 years — will reduce his role this spring to groom his successor in preparation for his retirement at the end of the school year.

Basirico has spent his entire professional career in the Lowco, first at May River Academy, where he was appointed the school’s athletics director, head basketball coach, and head baseball coach in 1979, before the school’s merger with Sea Pines Academy former Hilton Head Prep in 1985. 

In addition to a Hall of Fame coaching career, that included 14 conference championship, five state titles, and more than 500 wins over 26 seasons, Basirico also had a role in developing young minds at HHP over the years. 

 In 1990, he accepted the position of Director of Student Activities for the Upper School. In 1993, he became Head of the Middle School and the following year moved to Head of the Upper School. 

Coming full circle, Basirico became Prep’s athletics director once again in 2011. A native of Long Island, New York, Basirico graduated Magna Cum Laude from St. Leo University and earned his Master of Education in Secondary School Education and Supervision from The Citadel.

“While I look forward to retirement, I will surely miss coming to school each day,” Basirico said in a release. “I have been blessed to be a part of the May River/Hilton Head Prep family and I truly value the many lasting friendships that I have made at school and in the community. As I look back, I am reminded of the many outstanding student-athletes who represented our school and how much I have enjoyed coaching and teaching each of them. I can honestly say that I am grateful for each morning that I have had the opportunity to start the day at Hilton Head Prep.”

His students and players are just as grateful.

“Coach Basirico’s impact on young people goes far beyond wins and losses,” said former player Perry Hodge, a 1987 HHP graduate. “Coach Basirico inspired his players to pursue success and taught the dedication and persistence it takes to get there. But his lessons weren’t all about winning.  Coach stood beside us through our failures and taught us how to deal with adversity head on.  It’s Coach B’s voice I hear when times get tough. Coach Basirico’s retirement marks the end of an amazing career, but his impact on his students will endure.”

For more than 20 years, Basirico’s former players have held an annual golf tournament in his honor raising money for college scholarships (named the “4D Scholarships”) which are awarded annually to a Hilton Head Prep player based on his commitment to the 4 D’s — Desire, Dedication, Determination, and Discipline — four principles ingrained in the hearts and minds of Basirico’s players and students. 

In 2012, Hilton Head Prep endowed a scholarship titled “The Richard A. Basirico Scholarship,” given annually to a student to attend Hilton Head Prep who most represents two hallmarks shared by both Basirico and Hilton Head Prep — academic excellence and moral integrity.

Additionally, in 2007, his former players and supporters honored Basirico by raising over $350,000 to name the basketball court in the newly constructed Joseph B. Fraser Jr. Field House in his honor, a gesture that will live in perpetuity. 

He has served as President of the South Carolina Independent School Coaches Association and has been selected to coach the South Carolina-Georgia All-Star Basketball game three times. Basirico also had the honor of coaching football, baseball and softball during his career and was inducted into Hilton Head Prep’s Athletic Hall of Fame in 2008. 

Basirico is married to Karen Lark Basirico and is the father of three – Kristi, Brooke and Kevin (all three children are Hilton Head Prep graduates). He is also the proud grandfather of five.

Basirico plans to cut back to part time hours after the completion of the basketball season and retire at the end of the school year. Erik Mathisen, currently director of HHP’s baseball academy in addition to his roles as a teacher and coach, will take over this summer. 

“The Hilton Head Prep community has been fortunate to have Rich as an integral member of our community,” Headmaster Jon Hopman said in the school’s release. “‘Coach,’ as he is so lovingly referred to, is one of the most genuine, honest, and well-respected educators I have ever been privileged to work beside.”

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