Willie Freeman has resigned as head boys basketball coach at North Salem High School.
Freeman, who coached North Salem to back-to-back Central Valley Conference championships, was placed on paid leave from the coaching position effective Feb. 27 after charges were filed against him connected with a Nov. 4, 2011 incident.
Freeman said that with the charges still pending against him, he felt it was better to resign now rather than wait for the charges to be resolved and drag the search for a replacement out longer.
"What I decided to do was to resign for the benefit of the kids," Freeman said.
A trial date for the 10 criminal charges pending against Freeman for an alleged DUI and hit-and-run incident has been set for Aug. 21 in Clackamas County Court.
"We are in the process of resolving the criminal case," said Walter Todd, Freeman's attorney.
The coaching position was posted Thursday by the Salem-Keizer School District.
Freeman said his graduation mentor position with the Salem-Keizer Education Foundation, from which he also was placed on paid leave, ended with the end of the 2011-12 school year.
"Krina Lemons, I thank her to death," Freeman said. "She had my back and she kept me on in my position with the Salem-Keizer Education Foundation. She's been a real blessing in my heart, but that's over with now."
In Freeman's two years as head coach at North Salem, the Vikings went 39-13, won consecutive CVC championships and reached the state playoffs both years. Before Freeman, the last time that North Salem reached the state playoffs was 2002.
Freeman was the CVC coach of the year both years.
"I thank God more than anybody because he's the one who brought me out here and helped me get this job and gave me the players to work with, Avry Holmes, L.J. Westbrook, Malik Leeks, Darius Adams, Ben Shedd and Anthony Davis," Freeman said.
"In two years we accomplished some tremendous things."
Freeman said he wants to continue coaching basketball, though with the criminal charges still pending, he hasn't applied for any positions.
He said he has been contacted by players who want to work with him individually and has been looking for a gym to do that.
"Basically I'm kind of playing it by ear right now," Freeman said. "Right now I haven't done anything as far as applying.
"There's nothing else I want to do. This is my life. This is my passion."
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