Bonner Scores $70K As Vashon Coach and SLPS Administrator

Anthony Bonner in the 1990s, when he played for PAOK in Greece
Ex-NBA player Anthony Bonner won't just become Vashon High School's new boys' varsity hoops coach: As of today Bonner became the St. Louis Public Schools' first "Executive Director of Community Outreach." (According to Missouri State High School Activities Association rules, school coaches must hold a Professional Teacher's Certificate and be a full- or part-time teacher or administrator in the district.)

According to sources in the district, Bonner's new gig pays about $70,000 a year.

At a press conference this afternoon, Bonner said he doesn't know all that the job entails but believes he'll act as a liaison between the SLPS and interested third parties, such as the St. Louis Rams.

As Vashon's new coach Bonner replaces Floyd Irons, who was ousted in July.

Bonner, a Vashon alum who went on to play for Saint Louis University, then moved on to a pro career that included stints with the Sacramento Kings, New York Knicks and Orlando Magic, showed nothing but the highest regard for his predecessor -- and high school coach -- during the afternoon announcement. "Thanks to Floyd Irons' example, I too have a passion and eager desire to sow into the lives of our youth," Bonner said.

He suggested that the position had been offered to him and that he thought long and hard before accepting. "When the position became open, I didn't just throw my hands up and say, 'I'm gonna take that,'" Bonner noted.

Local media and high school hoops gadflies have spent the past few weeks chattering about how Bonner would likely seek Irons' blessing before taking the job. But Bonner said he hasn't had "any direct contact" with Irons. Added Bonner: "I know in his heart of hearts he has my best interests at heart."

Winter sport practices begin October 30; games right around Thanksgiving. But the Vashon Wolverines -- without Anthony Bonner -- have already been practicing at least two days a week. Two players made a special trip to district headquarters this afternoon to size up the incoming coach for themselves.

"He seems like a real nice gentleman," noted junior Marcell Taylor-Smith.

Fellow junior Quintin Berry was less enchanted. "You're losing your father, that's how this feels," he said.

School board President Veronica O'Brien led the afternoon media event, which included introductory remarks from Richard Grawer, SLU's former basketball coach.

Conspicuously absent was new SLPS superintendent Diana Bourisaw. She is at a conference and not expected to return to the office until Wednesday. -Kristen Hinman

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