OREM — Former Lehi High girls basketball coach Mike O'Connor is back coaching high school basketball.

Orem High administrators on Monday hired O'Connor to be the Tigers' new boys basketball coach, replacing Mike Conner, who resigned early this month.

"I'm just thrilled for the opportunity," O'Connor said. "This is great for me and my family. In fact, I think my family is more happy about it than anyone."

After being fired from his Lehi job four years ago amidst a dispute with some disgruntled parents, O'Connor filed a defamation lawsuit against those who pushed for his dismissal. The suit was eventually resolved by mutual agreement last spring, but O'Connor hasn't coached high school basketball since losing his Lehi job.

"I always knew that at some point my experience and the things I've accomplished in coaching would speak for itself," he said about his new position.

For the past four years O'Connor's only basketball coaching job has been directing a boys AAU team.

"I really think that experience helped me get this opportunity," he said. "It's been the most fun I've ever had coaching, and I'm hoping to have that same kind of fun and experience now working with the high school kids at Orem. I know we've got a great group of kids coming back."

For at least this school year, O'Connor's gig at Orem will require some communication between Orem High officials and Lehi High officials. O'Connor will continue teaching at Lehi for the remainder of this school year, and will finish the season as Lehi's boys golf coach.

As for Conner, he stepped down after 11 seasons for personal reasons.

"My leaving was completely a personal choice I made," Conner said. "For the most part, I just felt like it was time to do something different."

Conner took the Tigers to the state's Final Four four times and once (2001) to the championship game. He hasn't ruled out a return to coaching someday.


E-mail: jimr@desnews.com