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Bobby Steinburg made a gutsy decision based on long-term goals that hurt deeply the day he made it when he decided to leave the Kent State men's basketball program and accept an offer to become the associate head coach at Youngstown State University last week.
Steinburg has spent the past nine seasons as an assistant coach for the Golden Flashes, helping the program capture three Mid-American Conference regular season championships and the 2017 MAC Tournament crown.
With no end to Kent State's success in sight, Steinburg could have chosen the safe route and remained on the staff for years to come. Deciding to leave such a secure situation certainly was not easy.
"By far the most difficult decision of my professional career," said Steinburg. "While I would say it was a win-win regardless of what I chose, I have spent nine years at Kent State. I have a lot of equity built and an enormous sense of pride for Kent State. I cherish my time here. Not only do I feel strongly about Kent's chances for a MAC championship this season, I feel as though (head coach Rob) Senderoff and staff are on the brink of something very special.
"Combine that with the relationships I have with our staff, student-athletes, administrators, and so many fans, this was extremely difficult to walk away from."
Steinburg actually interviewed to become the Penguins' head coach last month. He reportedly was their second choice behind Jerrod Calhoun, who was named head coach of Youngstown State on March 27 after going 124-38 in five seasons at the helm of Division II Fairmont State.
"After interviewing for the head coaching job, it became evident that Youngstown State is making a commitment to men's basketball," said Steinburg. "Ultimately I was not offered the head coaching position, but someone I have gotten to know over the years was (Calhoun), and he wanted me to join him. The opportunity to help build a program that has struggled for many years, and to do so alongside a friend and with strong resources, was extremely enticing."
Steinburg will carry a slew of great memories of his Kent State days to Youngstown, where he hopes to make more by rebuilding a struggling program that's enjoyed just two winning season since 2001 and has not reached 20 victories since 1997-98.
"I have been a part of some truly special teams and individuals during my time at Kent," he said. "I am Kent State for life and will be rooting on my Flashes in every game except when we play them in November. Kent State gave me an opportunity to be a part of something greater than myself, to join a family that oozes tradition and stands by one another through everything. This has been nine of the best years of my life. The young men that I was fortunate enough to recruit, coach, and simply be around during my time here have impacted my life. My lifelong friendships with our staff, those are bonds that will never be broken. We are family."
The Flashes will lose a top-notch recruiter in Steinburg, who landed former First Team All-MAC forward Chris Evans, teamed with Senderoff to nab three-time First-Team All-Conference forward Jimmy Hall, and snagged the prize of the 2016 recruiting class in Newark High School forward B.J. Duling among many others during his nine-year run at KSU.
Steinburg has been with the Flashes since 2008, when he and fellow New York native Senderoff were assistants under Geno Ford. Senderoff retained Steinburg when he took over the Flashes program starting with the 2011-12 season.
"Kent State is very lucky to have coach Senderoff leading men's basketball, and I know he feels just as lucky to be in that position," said Steinburg. "He has taught me so much and is as loyal as the day is long. I am a better coach and individual, having worked both with and for Rob."
Steinburg plans to stay in touch with members of the Flashes family he's leaving behind.
"I know this isn't goodbye, as I am right down the road," said Steinburg. "It is comforting to know that my Kent State family is still nearby, and I hope they all know how much love and respect I have for them."