A college job was just too good to pass up, and now the Union boys basketball program is without a head coach.
Maco Hamilton, who guided the Titans to the 2010 Class 3A state championship, broke the news to players and parents Sunday night that he was stepping down to take over at George Fox University in Newberg, Ore.
"There were a lot of tears and a lot of shock in the room," Hamilton said. "It was a very difficult night, a very difficult process. The toughest decision of my life."
Hamilton started the Union program when the school opened its doors for the 2007-08 school year, then proceeded to bring home three state tournament trophies in six seasons.
After a 5-15 first season, the Titans won 20 games and finished seventh at the state tournament in Year 2.
In 2010, the Titans were 15-9 going into the state tournament, unranked and an afterthought. Four wins later, they were state champions — winning the final two games despite trailing in the final 15 seconds.
The Titans would notch three more winning seasons — including a third-place trophy at the 4A state tournament in 2012 — under Hamilton, who leaves high school coaching behind with a 95-56 record.
"Maco is a really talented coach. I'm just happy for him. We're happy for him to have this opportunity," said Cale Piland, Union's athletic director. "We wish him nothing but the best."
Hamilton had kept Piland in the loop as he looked into the George Fox job.
Hamilton, 35, said he loves Union and would have been happy staying there for the rest of his career. However, he was drawn to the chance to see if his coaching philosophy could work at a higher level.
Everything about George Fox was perfect, he said, if he was going to make the jump from high school.
"My wife (Shayna) said, 'If you want to be a college basketball coach, you'd be stupid to turn this down,' " Maco said. "I wanted to take this chance, this opportunity."
Hamilton said his program has never been only about winning or losing. George Fox officials told him that is one of the reasons they wanted him to lead the Bruins.
"It's about the development of young men, and true, deep relationships that have meaning," Hamilton said.
Piland said he hopes to have some news on the future of Union's program this week.
"We're not trying to find another Maco Hamilton. He's obviously a unique coach. You don't replace him," Piland said. "You try to find another quality person … who will try to run the program at as high of a level as (Hamilton's) been able to run our program."