The New Orleans Hornets announced today that the search for a new head coach will begin immediately and Jeff Bower will resume his sole duties and focus as the team’s general manager.

“Jeff stepped in to coach in a difficult situation and did a phenomenal job this season serving both roles as head coach and general manager.” said Hornets President Hugh Weber. “We had a lot of setbacks with injuries but still competed every night even though our players missed a total of 230 games due to injury. This move allows Jeff to fully focus as the team’s general manager and build off of our great draft success of last season. He has been a valued part of shaping our franchise for a long time and we feel fortunate that Jeff will continue in a major role as GM. We will continue to supplement and evaluate our resources on the basketball side so we can compete and maximize our personnel decisions at the highest level.”

Bower took over the head coaching role this season on November 12 after the Hornets relieved Byron Scott of head coach duties. Bower guided the Hornets to a 34-39 record (.466) this season while the team endured many injuries to its key players. The Hornets high this season came on January 27th when the team was five games above .500 at 25-20 and occupied the sixth seed in the Western Conference before three-time All-Star Chris Paul went down with an injury and missed the next 29 of 37 games to finish the season.

Bower, who has spent his 14-plus seasons with the club, has been an invaluable asset for the Hornets at all levels in basketball operations.  He began his tenure with the Hornets as an advance scout from 1995 to 1997 before earning a promotion as the team’s director of scouting.  In addition to his scouting duties during the 1998-99 season, Bower joined the coaching ranks as an assistant after Paul Silas was named interim head coach on March 7, 1999 (and helped him lead the Hornets to a 22-13 record).  After serving as the assistant general manager for the 2000-01 season, Bower was promoted to general manager in June of 2001 and has since held that position.  He returned to the bench as an assistant coach under Floyd in 2003-04. Bower’s years of experience working at all levels in the Hornets’ basketball operations department culminated with his appointment to the current post of general manager just prior to the start of the team’s 2005-06 training camp.

“First off, I want to thank the Hornets organization for their belief in me to serve as both head coach and general manager for the majority of the 2009-10 season,” said Bower. “One thing that our team did night in and night out was compete regardless of circumstances. However, we were able to get some great support from our two rookies, who have shown that they are among the best rookies in this year’s class. I look forward to the challenges ahead as GM and to build off the positives from this season and the previous seasons in the draft and free agency.”

Prior to joining the Hornets, Bower enjoyed an impressive career at the collegiate level.  He spent three years as an assistant coach at Penn State University from 1983-86 before moving to Marist College in Poughkeepsie, N.Y.  After first serving as an assistant coach from 1986 through 1990, he was promoted to associate head coach, a position he held for five years.  Bower helped lead the Red Foxes to an NCAA Tournament appearance in 1987 after winning the Northeast Conference.