Kevin Boyle, the fiery Irishman who over the course of more than 20 years turned Elizabeth (N.J.) St. Patrick into a perennial national powerhouse and produced numerous high-Division 1 standouts and several NBA players, is leaving to become head coach at Montverde (Fla.) Academy.
“It’s a beautiful, beautiful campus,” Boyle told The Daily News. “Montverde Academy strives to be the best in whatever it does and that’s the same for the basketball program. I’m looking forward to the challenge but at the same time, leaving St. Patrick with a heavy heart. I’ve made a lot of good friends along the way.”
The job includes a $130,000 annual salary plus a car and a four-bedroom home, multiple sources said. Florida has no state income tax and the cost of living is cheaper than in New Jersey.
Boyle’s 15-year-old son, Brendan, will also enroll in the school and play for his father.
“The education [at Montverde] is the best and will prepare my son or college,” Boyle told The Daily News.
“This was a good situation for my family,” Boyle added. “That’s very important to me.”
Boyle replaces Kevin Sutton, who resigned after eight seasons and left a team that finished 22-14 and No. 14 in USA Today’s Super 25 poll.
Boyle won five New Jersey Tournament of Champions titles and produced NBA players Sam Dalembert and Al Harrington, as well as a slew of college standouts, including Shaheen Holloway (Seton Hall), Corey Fisher (Villanova), Dexter Strickland (North Carolina) and Kyrie Irving (Duke).
His current senior class features Kentucky-bound McDonald’s All-American Michael Gilchrist and Western Kentucky-bound Derrick Gordon.
He also clashed with the New Jersey Interscholastic Athletic Association. A year ago, St. Pat’s was banned from the state tournament for holding illegal out-of-season workouts, which Boyle admitted to holding.
Kasey Kesselring, headmaster at Montverde, said more than 20 people applied for the job.
“He achieved some national recognition the last several years,” Kesselring said of Boyle. “When you’re facing a transition, it was important to me to find an individual who I felt valued some characteristics and qualities when it came to mirroring the quality of our academic program with a quality athletic program.
“Kevin has achieved some very high bench-marks as the coach at St. Pat’s,” he said. “I was particularly interested in Kevin because of his long tenure at St. Pat’s.”
He is the second high-profile New Jersey high school coach to leave in as many days. St. Benedict’s Prep coach Roshown McLeod resigned Wednesday after just one season following Dan Hurley.
Boyle’s team was ranked No. 1 nationally and was unbeaten for the entire season before losing in the unofficial national championship game to Bob Hurley’s St. Anthony team, 62-45, in the North Non-Public B final March 10 at Rutgers.
Now, only Hurley remains, while Boyle departs for another high-profile high school job.
“It seemed like a great deal to turn something like that down,” Hurley said of Boyle.
Asked if he would miss playing against Boyle’s teams, Hurley added: “I don’t know that I’m going to miss playing against teams as good as that. I hope the teams aren’t that good.”
Longtime New York recruiting expert Tom Konchalski said “there will be a new landscape to Garden State basketball” without Boyle.
“There will be a huge hole in Garden State high school basketball,” he added. “I just hope the school stays open. One of the great rivalries in New Jersey in the last 30 or 40 years has just dissipated.”
Within the past few years, several Catholic schools in the Northeast have closed, including Paterson Catholic, one of St. Pat’s and St. Anthony’s chief rivals. There have been rumblings that St. Patrick might be forced to merge with another local school, or close altogether. By leaving now, Boyle avoids this uncertain fate.
Hurley knows St. Anthony would close the minute he left, but he has no plans to go anywhere even though his chief rival is gone.
“I’m not going anywhere,” said Hurley, 63. “As long as I have good health, I ‘ll be here as long as I can coach.”
St. Patrick assistants Rae Miller and Chris Chevannes figure to be the favorites to replace Boyle at this early stage.
“I’m sure that St. Pat’s is going to try to get someone to try to maintain their position,” Hurley said. “I think it will be difficult because he was the face of St. Pat’s basketball but they’re going to try.”
Paul Suber, whose son, Da’Sean, is a sophomore point guard at the school, said he was uncertain what he would do next. St. Pat’s had a strong core coming back next year in Suber, sophomore wing Jason Boswell, sophomore big Austin Colbert and 6-10 frosh Dakari Johnson.
“I thought he was going to stay once he didn’t get the Monmouth job,” Paul Suber said of Boyle.
“When that didn’t come through I thought it was a no-brainer. Now it’s gonna be a madhouse. There’s gonna be a lot of schools calling for Da’sean now.”
And probably the other St. Patrick stars, too.