Chris Popp

West Plains basketball team photos on September 26, 2019. Jesse Scheve/Missouri State University

Officials at Missouri State University-West Plains on Wednesday announced the resignation of Grizzly Basketball Head Coach Chris Popp.

His resignation is effective immediately, university officials said.

“I appreciate the opportunity to serve as this program’s head basketball coach,” Popp said. “This is a great place in many ways. The people I have had the pleasure of working with are second to none. Dr. (Angela) Totty (dean of student services/athletic director) has been unwavering in her support, along with so many others on campus.

“My coaches and players have worked extremely hard to do what is asked and have represented this program well,” he continued. “I cannot thank them enough for all they have done for me personally.

“This is a personal decision I feel is necessary for reasons not related to basketball, nor does it in any way reflect how I feel about this community,” he added. “The support I have felt from the people in West Plains, in good times and tough times, has been impressive. That is especially true of the Grizzly Booster Club. I wish nothing but the best for this program, community and institution moving forward.”

“We thank Coach Popp for his work with the Grizzly Basketball program, and wish him well in his future endeavors,” Chancellor Shirley Lawler said.

University officials have agreed to pay out the remaining term of his contract, which ends June 30.

Popp took the helm of the Grizzly Basketball program in 2016. Following his inaugural season, he led the Grizzlies to back-to-back seasons ranked in the NJCAA top 20 and two Region 16 Championship game appearances, including the program’s fourth Region 16 Championship at the end of the 2017-18 season. He also was named the Region 16 Coach of the Year that season.

Popp came to the Grizzlies after spending five years as first assistant coach at the University of Arkansas-Fort Smith. Prior to that position, he served as an assistant coach at Newman University and Tabor College. He began his coaching career at Derby High School in Derby, Kansas.

Lawler said a national search for a new head coach will begin immediately. Assistant Coach Aaron Proctor will serve as interim head coach until a new coach is hired.

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