Lonnie Bartley said the feeling has been there for just about a year, if not longer.
The feeling will become an announcement Saturday night that the end of a remarkable era has arrived.
After 29 seasons, Bartley is done as head womens basketball coach at Fort Valley State, with the announcement to come Saturday before the Lady Wildcats host Albany State in the regular-season finale.
Its time, the 54-year-old said Friday afternoon. I dont know that Ill coach again. I dont know that I wont.
The Lady Wildcats still have next weeks SIAC tournament in Atlanta, which they will enter with the fewest conference wins since 1994-95 if they beat Albany State on Saturday or 1988-89 if they dont.
FVSU is 12-12 overall and 8-7 in conference play, in fourth place in the East and a game behind Paine.
Seniors will be honored before the game, and fans will be told that its Bartleys final game as the Lady Wildcats head coach.
Hell depart with 10 SIAC championships, barring a run through the conference tournament. He is 629-223 with at least two games left, Saturday and the first tournament game. Every game has been as FVSUs head coach.
Bartley won his 600th game last season and needed seven wins entering 2012-13 to become the winningest womens basketball coach at an historically black college or university.
I knew I was going to get it somewhere, Bartley said, deciding to get it at his alma mater. But I came back for the record.
Bartley expressed frustration before the season with how things were going at FVSU in terms of finances, cuts in budgets and staffs and general athletics management. He said he has fewer than five scholarships to offer, half of what the NCAA allows. Erica Henry was the first and only full-time assistant he had in 29 seasons, and she left after one season -- the 2011-12 year -- for the same position at Grambling, a Division I HBC school.
FVSU hasnt had a full-time athletics director in more than a year, with the last full-time athletics director lasting fewer than two years.
Bartley has turned down head coach and assistant positions before, including last year. He said back in August that this was probably his last year, and the door appeared to remain open that hed return, although he said Friday he knew it by the end of last season.
Bartley told school officials, including outgoing president Larry Rivers as well as interim athletics director Willie Williams, months ago. He said former players and opposing coaches became increasingly aware.
Bartley finally told his team in the locker room after the 74-64 loss at Albany State on Feb. 2.
I didnt want the players to hear it from other people, Bartley said. I didnt want it getting back to them.
Bartley said he pulled back on recruiting, because he didnt want to sign players for only one season when he knew he was leaving. Bartley said people have tried to talk him into staying.
Some people are crazy enough to think that the way the season is going that Id want to come back, he said with a chuckle. No, Im done. This is it.
Bartley began the season 41st among all active NCAA womens coaches -- in all three divisions -- in winning percentage (74.5), and he was tied for 18th with Nancy Fahey of Washington-St. Louis and Harry Parretta of Villanova in wins among active coaches.
Among Division II active coaches, he started the year eighth in winning percentage and fourth in wins. Arkansas Techs Dave Wilbers (84.2 percentage) and Barbara Stevens of Bentley (852) led those categories.
Bartley, a Troup County graduate and 1983 FVSU alum, said he wont apply for any jobs for a while but will listen to offers. He also left open the door to accept a non-coaching position at FVSU.
For now, once the season is over, hell focus on his restoration of antique cars. He does expect to wear a whistle again at some point.
I dont think this is my last rodeo, he said. Im probably going to get back on the horse one more time.
And he expects Saturday night to be a normal game night.
Im going to smile when they announce it; Im going to wave, he said. Then Im gonna coach my ass off for 40 minutes and try to win, and thats going to be it.
Lonnie Bartleys career