Darnell to be relieved of coaching duties
Nov. 15, 2004
KALAMAZOO--Gary Darnell, in his eighth season as head football coach at Western Michigan University, will have his contract terminated upon conclusion of the 2004 season. The Broncos travel to Marshall University this Saturday, Nov. 20, for their season finale.
"We are extremely grateful for Gary's contributions to the Bronco football program over the past eight years," said Kathy Beauregard, WMU director of intercollegiate athletics. "However after last season, which was our third consecutive losing season, we discussed the need for the program to have a winning record in 2004 for Gary to continue as head coach. For the benefit of our student-athletes and fans, we simply cannot afford another year of decline and now is the time for new leadership to be brought in."
There are two years remaining on Darnell's contract, and the university has decided to exercise the buyout provision contained within the agreement. WMU will begin a national search immediately for Darnell's replacement. As part of that process, an advisory committee will be formed to assist in the search.
WMU is 1-9 this season and winless, 0-7, in the Mid-American Conference. Over the past four seasons, the Broncos have compiled a 15-30 record (.333) and an 11-20 conference mark (.355). This trend has contributed to slumping attendance figures, which have fallen steadily over the past four seasons.
Hired as the program's 13th head coach Dec. 14, 1996, Darnell inherited a 2-9 squad and produced an 8-3 record in his first season, generating the biggest turnaround in the NCAA that year. Darnell compiled a 31-15 record (.673) and 24-8 MAC ledger (.750) in his first four seasons at WMU, leading the Broncos to MAC West Division titles and MAC Championship Game appearances in 1999 and 2000.
Darnell was named MAC Coach of the Year in 2000 and was twice listed as a finalist for the State Farm Eddie Robinson Coach of Distinction Award, which recognizes on-field achievement and community service. In 2003, the Bronco football team received a STAR Award from the Volunteer Center of Greater Kalamazoo. The team has been recognized by the American Football Coaches Association four straight years for graduation rates above 70 percent.
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