LAKE CHARLES, La. (AP) — McNeese State athletic director and basketball coach Heath Schroyer is stepping away from coaching to focus on rebuilding the university’s 16 sports programs and facilities after the double blow of the COVID-19 pandemic and a damaging 2020 hurricane season.

Schroyer announced his decision Thursday. He posted a coaching record at McNeese of 34-59 since his hiring in March of 2018. That included a 10-14 mark this season.

McNeese State’s season ended with a loss to Southeastern Louisiana on Tuesday in the Southland Conference Tournament.

The university said in a statement that associate head coach John Aiken will take over as head coach effective immediately.

“I’m leaving the basketball program in great hands,” Schroyer said. “John is more than ready to step into that role. John will bring energy to our kids, and will no doubt take the program to the next level. We have a great core of players who have eligibility remaining. I’m very excited about the future of Cowboy basketball.”

McNeese President Dr. Daryl Burckel said he and Schroyer have had several conversations about the athletic department's direction.

“He has exemplified the leadership skills, and the vision, to make certain our athletic department overcomes its current financial challenges caused by a global pandemic and direct hits from two hurricanes," Burckel said. “Heath’s commitment to the well-being of our student-athletes is unwavering, and his determination to help propel our athletic teams toward championships is untiring."

Schroyer was named the interim athletic director in July and had the “interim” dropped in December. He has been pulling double duty ever since. He told The American Press it was just too much for him at this time.

“Two jobs got to be too big for one man,” Schroyer said. “When we started out there were no hurricanes and the idea was to try both jobs and see. But after this year there was just so much that has to be done. The athletic director job, with all that has happened and all that needs to happen, is a full-time job itself. So is coaching basketball.”

Schroyer has worked on fixing up an entire athletic program and its facilities, some of which were damaged significantly when Hurricane Laura hit last Aug. 27.

“This is the toughest challenge of my career,” Schroyer said. “There is so much work that has been done and still so much work that needs to be done.”

His work during the university's rebuilding process has drawn compliments from other McNeese coaches.

“He has made sure we have everything we needed to get back on the field as fast as possible and the right way,” McNeese football coach Frank Wilson said.