ST. BERNARD, Ohio — Roger Bacon High School boys basketball coach Brian Neal will step down at the conclusion of the coming 2021-2022 season, the school announced on Tuesday.
Neal has a 236-161 career record at Roger Bacon entering his 17th season as head coach. He has the most coaching wins in program history.
Roger Bacon opens its inaugural season as a member of the Miami Valley Conference with a non-conference game at Hughes on Nov. 26 (7:30 p.m. tipoff).
Neal was an assistant coach under the late Bill Brewer for the 2002 state title team. This season will also mark the 20th anniversary of the 2002 state championship victory over LeBron James and St. Vincent – St. Mary. Commemorations are planned at Roger Bacon during the 2021-22 season.
This season will also be particularly special for Neal and his wife, Dr. Amy Neal, as their son, Andrew, is a senior guard for the Spartans. Their daughter, Libby, is a freshman at Roger Bacon.
“I have been a part of the Roger Bacon high school basketball program every day since I was 14," Brian Neal said in a release.
"I am now almost 50. In that time I have grown from being a student, to an alum, to a coach and a teacher. The sideline at Fogarty Center has been my home away from home since 1991. It is where I have been able to watch hundreds of young student-athletes mature into leaders, forge friendship bonds that will last a lifetime, and learn the sacrifices it takes to fulfill their potential. They have my unending respect for pouring themselves out for their teammates and their school, and my eternal gratitude for giving me the ride of my life, and while I have been incredibly blessed to be the head coach of a successful program, any success attached to my name is only possible because of the dedication of the players and coaches I have been blessed to work with."
Neal plans to continue his roles as chair of the mathematics department and teacher at Roger Bacon.
"He enjoys his teaching job," Rossi said. "He is a great math teacher. So I think when you're in a situation like that and you have a coaching responsibility to go along with that - I think that just helps."
Neal became the boys basketball program's all-time coaching wins leader in January 2016 when he earned his 171st career win and surpassed the late Bill Brewer (170 wins).
Neal, who started as the Roger Bacon head coach in the 2005-06 season, has earned numerous awards including the Associated Press Division III coach of the year honor in 2013. He was named a Greater Catholic League coach of the year eight times.
The Spartans won eight league titles, 10 sectional titles, seven district titles and three regional championships under Neal. Roger Bacon was the Division III state runner-up in 2017.
Roger Bacon athletic director Steve Rossi said Neal is very organized during the season and has been able to adapt as a head coach over the years with the personnel in his program.
"His ability to remain focused during the season and he's just put together a process for himself and the program that has created success," Rossi said. "...He has an ability to welcome in new groups of athletes and students."
Neal was an assistant coach on Roger Bacon's 2002 state championship team that famously defeated LeBron James and Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary 71-63 in the Division II state final at Value City Arena in Columbus.
The son of Roger Bacon’s iconic marching band and music director Wesley Neal, Brian Neal grew up in the hallways of the school and graduated in 1990.
As a student, Neal met his wife, Dr. Amy Neal ('93), and played basketball for Spartans legend Jim Rice.
After beginning his post-college career in corporate America, Neal decided he wanted to follow in his father’s footsteps, becoming a math teacher, and returning to his alma mater to teach and coach.
Neal's first stint as an assistant was with his former coach, Jim Rice. He worked for Rice for one year before Rice retired from coaching. He was then hired to work with the Roger Bacon girls basketball program and head coach Tom Singleton.
During the 1994 season the team finished as the Division II state runner-up, and in 1995 earned a 28-0 record, claiming the Division II state championship.
Neal moved back over to the boys side with Brewer, and was an assistant coach when the Spartans made history in 2002 with a state title for the ages.
"The one thing about Brian is that since 1994 he's been part of every significant basketball victory boys and girls at Bacon," Rossi said.