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Mundelein coach Richard Knar tells his players to get down court. | Michael Schmidt~Sun-Times Media
Richard Knar is what you would call a basketball lifer.
“I’ve never not coached in my life,” Knar said Monday.
Until now. After 26 seasons as a basketball coach, the last nine as the head boys coach at Mundelein, Knar is retiring.
He officially announced his decision at the team’s banquet Sunday evening. Knar said he’d been thinking about stepping down for about a month, discussing the idea with his wife, Theresa, and Mustangs athletic director Perry Wilhelm. He said he decided to leave the program at the banquet.
“It surprised my wife,” Knar said.
Knar cited a litany of reasons for stepping down. His youngest son, Robert, is graduating this year and is committed to playing basketball at Northern Iowa. His oldest son, Dickie, plays basketball at Marian University in Fond du Lac, Wis., and his daughter Toni is a junior basketball player at Missouri S&T. Knar said his desire to watch them play was a factor. He also said he wants to spend more time with his father, Richard Sr., who lives in Eau Claire, Wis., and is battling heath problems.
“He was my guy who when I started feeling sorry for myself I could call and talk to,” Richard Knar said. “I can’t do that now. His health is off. Now is the time (to retire).”
Mundelein averaged 21 wins the last seven seasons with Richard Knar as coach and won a regional title in each of the past three seasons
Senior guard Quinn Pokora said Richard Knar, who will retain his job as dean of students, will be missed.
“That’s who he is. He’s the coach at Mundelein. It’s hard to think about Mundelein without him,” Pokora said.
Wilhelm said a search for Knar’s replacement is underway but won’t begin in earnest until after the school returns from a week-long spring break that begins March 25.
“It’s totally his decision. He’s obviously done a great job,” Wilhelm said. “There is a lot of enthusiasm. The numbers are good. That’s what you hope for.”
Knar began his career as an assistant coach at Northeastern Illinois University, moving to Northridge as head coach in 1997 before taking the Mundelein job in 2004. He amassed 266 wins in 16 seasons as a head coach, including one sectional and six regional titles.