WVU football coach Stewart resigns his post
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — A whirlwind couple of weeks surrounding the West Virginia football program came to a head Friday night, when coach Bill Stewart resigned and the university named offensive coordinator Dana Holgorsen head coach.
"It was the right thing to do," athletic director Oliver Luck said. "Today, we begin a new chapter, with a new coach. ... (Holgorsen) is ready for the challenge and understands the enormous responsibility that comes with it."
After hours of negotiations yesterday, Stewart and West Virginia decided to sever ties, Luck said.
"Coach Stewart and I have talked these past few days and both believe this is the right thing to do for our football program, our team, our university, our state — and all of Mountaineer nation," Luck said. "He respects the Mountaineer program and the student-athletes he coaches too much to let any conflict and any perception of disorder continue to be a distraction to the staff, team and fans."
Stewart's resignation comes after an internal investigation into the Mountaineers' football program for potential leaks to the media regarding accusations that Holgorsen was involved in alcohol-related incidents. West Virginia called the accusations inaccurate.
Luck said the resignation was not related to the investigation.
"The university was not able to substantiate any of the rumors or innuendoes out there. I'd like to leave it at that," Luck said. "Clearly this was becoming adistraction to our football program ... distractions I believed would not come to an end."
Stewart was not immediately available for comment.
"I appreciate the confidence that Oliver Luck, the university and the Mountaineer supporters have shown in me, and I look forward to continuing the tradition of excellence at West Virginia," Holgorsen said. "We will move forward, united as coaches, players and administrators and work hard to bring championships to this great state."
Bethel Park's Nick Kwiatkoski, who committed to play at West Virginia in the fall, said he was not letting the coaching situation affect him.
"I'm trying to not follow it and just get the whole story at the end," Kwiatkoski said. "I know the gist of it. But the way I look at it, whoever's the coach, I'm still going to play there."
Other current or former Mountaineers weighed in on the social networking site Twitter.
Holgorsen had yet to formally speak with the team as of last night.
"So three head coaches since I been here at WVU ... each past two came with controversy and each preached things that supposedly they went against ... but at the end of the day I respect both guys and am greatful for what they have done for WVU and my career ... I'm proud to be a mountaineer and will bleed gold and blue till I die ... congrats to our new coach Holgs and let's get after this big east championship," tweeted senior defensive end Julian Miller.
Luck said in December after hiring Holgorsen to be a coach-in-waiting who would succeed Stewart in 2012 that he didn't believe Stewart and then-offensive coordinator Jeff Mullen could win a national title.
Luck also cited waning support for the program after Stewart became coach and a loss in season tickets sales and attendance.
According to Holgorsen's term sheet signed Dec. 14, he will receive a prorated salary of $1.4 million for the rest of this year, up from the $750,000 he would have made as offensive coordinator.
In addition, Holgorsen will make $250,000 more per season in the remaining five years of his six-year deal. By 2016, Holgorsen will make $2.65 million. He has not signed a formal contract yet.
Holgorsen will remain the team's offensive coordinator.
"I brought in a lot of (assistants) who know how I do things, so if I need to leave the room to go deal with this or deal with that, they can keep working," said Holgorsen, formerly Oklahoma State's offensive coordinator. "That
doesn't mean I'm going to completely turn it over to somebody."
Stewart took over in late 2007 after former coach Rich Rodriguez left for Michigan. He leaves with a 28-9 record, including a share of the Big East title in 2010. Still, WVU finished the 2010 season outside of the Top 25 for the first time since 2004.
He will make the prorated amount of his 2011 salary of $950,000, plus the $1.125 million he was owed in a separation agreement. Stewart will not take a separate position or remain with the university.
Luck would not comment further on the settlement.
The Dana Holgorsen file
Hometown: Mt. Pleasant, Iowa
Coaching experience: Holgorsen was an assistant coach at Valdosta State (1993-95), Mississippi College (1996-98), Wingate (1999), Texas Tech (2000-07), Houston (2008-09) and Oklahoma State (2010). He was offensive coordinator at his last three schools but was never a head coach.
Personal: Has three children: McClayne, Logan and Carlyn. In 1993, Holgorsen graduated from Iowa Wesleyan, where he played receiver.
Notable: Holgorsen was a 2010 finalist for the Broyles Award, given annually to the top assistant coach in college football. During his one season as offensive coordinator at Oklahoma State, the team led the nation in total offense (537.6 yards per game), was second in passing offense (354.7 ypg), and was third in scoring offense (44.9 ppg).
The Bill Stewart File
Hometown: New Martinsville, W.Va.
Coaching experience: Stewart was a student assistant at Fairmont State in 1974 for a year before taking an assistant position at Sistersville (W.Va.) High School the next year. He was also an assistant at Salem College (1977-78), North Carolina (1980, 1985-87), Marshall (1980), William and Mary (1981-83), Navy (1984), Arizona State (1988-98), and Air Force (1990-93). His first head coaching opportunity came at the Virginia Military Institute, leading the program from 1994-96. Stewart came to West Virginia as an assistant in 2000 before taking over the program before the 2008 Fiesta Bowl.
Career record: 36-37
Personal: Married to Karen Stewart, and has one son, Blaine.
Notable: Stewart took over at WVU during one of the program's most tumultuous periods. Former coach Rich Rodriguez left the program following a devastating loss to rival Pitt that cost the then-No. 2 Mountaineers a chance at the national championship. But Stewart filled in as interim coach and helped the team rebound in a 48-28 victory over favored Oklahoma, earning him the head position the following morning. West Virginia won nine games and went to Bowl games in each of Stewart's three seasons at the helm. Stewart's staff at VMI included current Steelers coach Mike Tomlin, then a receivers coach.
Stewart's Tenure at WVU
Dec. 18, 2007: Named interim coach after Rich Rodriguez accepted football coaching job at Michigan two days earlier
Jan. 2, 2008: Leads WVU to a 48-28 victory over Oklahoma in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl
Jan. 3, 2008: Named WVU's 32nd head football coach
Nov. 26, 2010: WVU beats Pitt, 35-10, Stewart's second victory over the rival Panthers in three years
Dec. 4, 2010: WVU loses to N.C. State, 23-7, in Champs Sports Bowl, capping a 9-4 season
Dec. 15, 2010: Dana Holgorsen is introduced as WVU's coach-in-waiting
June 10, 2011: Stewart resigns as WVU coachAdditional Information:
What they're saying:
>> 'I was shocked when everything came out. Coach Stew being, from what I've known about him for years, just being a sincere loyal guy. ... I think any coach being thrust into that situation • knowing where he's going to take your job no matter what you say or how you feel about that • you're going to have something to say at the end of the day.' Rasheed Marshall, ex-WVU quarterback and Brashear High School standout, on Stewart, his position coach at WVU
>> 'All of West Virginia owes a debt of gratitude to Bill Stewart for his unwavering commitment to this University and to this state, and he is always welcome here as a Mountaineer.' Dana Holgorsen, WVU head coach
>> 'I owe Coach Stew everything. That man recruited me to this school and believed in me. This is a shame things went down like this.' Junior offensive lineman Jeff Braun via Twitter
>> 'Bill took over as interim head coach in 2008 and rallied a team, a university and a state when we all needed a champion. He guided us to three successful seasons. He mentored many student-athletes. ... Bill sends this message to all Mountaineers: 'As I said on the day I was appointed head coach, what is best for WVU is my first priority. Today, I am doing what I believe to be in the best interest of the Mountaineer Nation.' ' WVU athletic director Oliver Luck
>> 'I want to thank Bill Stewart for his long service to Mountaineer football. I also wish him and his family the very best. Like every Mountaineer, I look forward to a great season, and know our athletic department and our student-athletes will work extremely hard to make us proud.' WVU president James P. Clements