4:30 PM FRIDAY – A 17-14 Thanksgiving Day win against all odds couldn’t prevent what seemed inevitable for the Hurricane’s head coach, Larry Coker.
Coker will not finish his contract according to an announcement Friday morning by the university administration.
“The University has made a decision to change head coaches for our football program,” UM Athletic Director Paul Dee said. “We all recognize Larry’s contributions to this program and all he has accomplished in his six years and in prior years as the offensive coordinator. On behalf of the university I want to thank him for what he’s done for us.”
The university will begin a six month fundraising campaign to obtain funds for the football program and a new coach. Miami will still be paying off Coker’s $3 million contract that was renewed at the end of the 2005 season.
President Donna E. Shalala issued a message this morning thanking Coker and his staff for their contributions as well as outlining the process for hiring a new head coach.
“We need a new start,” Shalala wrote.
Coker took over the Miami coaching job in 2001 and has since maintained a winning record (59-15). Aside from this turbulent season, Coker has led the team to two national championship games with one title, three BCS bowl games and five bowl games.
Coker was respected within the Miami community and among his players and staff.
“I know that our community will join me in thanking Larry and Dianna Coker for their devotion to each and every student-athlete and for being wonderful citizens of our University and community,” Shalala wrote. “I want to thank our student-athletes who have worked very hard during a terribly difficult season. Coach Coker, his assistant coaches, and the team have handled this past month with class and courage.”
Coker has remained collected throughout the speculation that he would be released at the end of this season. At a press conference, he said that he would agree with whatever the administration decided and has continued to support their decision.
“I want to encourage our alumni, fans, our NFL alumni, to be stronger than ever for supporting this program, supporting the new coach, the new staff,” Coker said. “The University of Miami has a great reputation. It’s going to be a good job. This football program will not be down long.”
Currently, there is no mention of a bowl bid for the Hurricanes and if a new head coach would be announced in time.
Stacey Arnold may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.