Citing battle with depression, Maley steps down as boys basketball coach at Conant

  • Conant boys basketball coach Jim Maley IV stepped down this week, citing a personal battle with depression as the main reason for his decision.

    Conant boys basketball coach Jim Maley IV stepped down this week, citing a personal battle with depression as the main reason for his decision. Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

By Dick Quagliano
Daily Herald Correspondent
Updated 4/7/2021 4:13 PM

Conant boys basketball coach James Maley is in a bigger battle than coaching basketball.

Maley stepped down as head coach of the Cougars, citing his battle with depression as the main reason for the decision. Maley, who has suffered from depression since high school, said it was the correct decision for him and his family.


"I have suffered with depression since I was in high school," Maley said. "I have had some recent episodes that have been pretty bad. I can't put my family through it. I can't put myself through it and I can't put the program through it."

Maley was open about his struggles the past few years.

"I have missed some time during the past few years," Maley said. "I can't do that again. Not just for myself but for the program as well. It is better off if I step down. The stress of basketball is a trigger for it and removing that trigger is the best way."

Maley became the seventh Conant basketball coach in school history. He replaced longtime legendary coach Tom McCormack after McCormack retired in 2017.

Maley, who will continue to teach physical education at the school, came to Conant after three seasons at St. Laurence and a stint at Kenwood Academy, where he helped successfully build the programs at both schools.

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Maley began his coaching career at Glenbard West, serving as freshman coach (2008-2009) and varsity assistant coach (2007-2008).

At Conant, Maley went 20-7 in his first year. He finished with a record of 41-56 after going 2-11 this past season.

Maley played basketball for one season at Northwestern University, starting 11 games as a freshman. He earned his bachelor's degree in sociology from the College of the Holy Cross (Worcester, Mass.), and his master's degree in teaching from Concordia University (River Forest, Ill.).

In high school, Maley was a three-time all-conference and two-time conference Player-of-the-Year in the West Suburban Silver, helping Lyons Township to a state final four finish in 2001, when he was named to the all-tournament team. In that season, Maley's Lions were defeated by Schaumburg by 1 point in the state semifinals; the Saxons continued on to win the championship.

"I told the kids (Tuesday) I was stepping down," Maley said. "It was very tough decision. After thinking about it was the right one for sure."


Maley said that he has been open with his players and the Conant administration about his depression. He also said that all involved have been very supportive.

"They have been awesome and extremely supportive," Maley said." My principal, Julie Nowak, and athletic director John Kane have been extremely supportive over the years. I am very appreciative about that. "

Maley said that he has been open with his players as well.

"The kids have been aware of it," he said. "I have been honest with them and that is important. I know if I was in high school, I would want my coaches to be honest with me. I really believe it has been helpful to some of our kids."

Kane was very happy at the effect Maley had on the Conant basketball program.

"We want what is best for him and his family," Kane said. 'You have to take care of that first before you do anything else. We are hoping the best for him and waiting to see how things will go and maybe at some point he will return. What he has done for us is very positive and very positive for our athletes and we appreciate what he has given to the program."

Maley was very open to discuss his battle with depression and how he will miss not coaching.

"It's an important topic," Maley said. "Not a lot of people talk about it. I am fine with it. I am going to miss a lot of stuff with the kids. It will be tough not competing anymore, but this is best for myself and the family."

Kane was happy that Maley was open to talk about his struggle with depression.

"Because of people like him, this has become easier to talk about," Kane said. "I give him a lot of credit for that."

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