By Anthony Caruso III | Publisher
On January 3, 2017 at 5:25 pm EST
The Minnesota Golden Gophers have fired head coach Tracy Claeys. Claeys reportedly met with Athletic Director Mark Coyle on Tuesday to discuss the program’s future.
The Golden Gophers finished with a 9-4 record. They defeated the Washington State Cougars in the National Funding Holiday Bowl when they won 17-12.
“I made a difficult decision [Tuesday] on behalf of the University of Minnesota,” Coyle said. “With the support of Board of Regents’ leadership and President Eric Kaler, I have decided to take the Gophers football team in a different direction with new coaching leadership. I determined that the football program must move in a new direction to address the challenges in recruiting, ticket sales and the culture of the program. We need strong leadership to take Gopher football to the next level and address these challenges.”
Coyle did not hire Claeys and he was named head coach when former head coach Jerry Kill had to step down due to health concerns.
Coyle has also fired most of the rest of the coaching staff. He announced that some of the coaching staff will remain in place as they transition to a new coaching staff.
The Golden Gophers made national news when the players threatened to boycott the Holiday Bowl because they did not like 10 of their teammates were suspended for the game. The school announced that they were suspended because of an alleged sexual assault incident.
Claeys told the players that he would likely be fired if they did not play in the bowl game.
“This decision is about the future of Minnesota football. Moving forward, we need a leader who sets high expectations athletically, academically and socially. I also want to address the unfortunate blurring of the football suspension decision. On December 13, 2016, Coach Claeys, Deputy Athletics Director John Cunningham and I met to discuss 10 student-athletes. I informed Coach Claeys of my judgment that athletic suspensions were appropriate. Without any objection, Coach Claeys said he understood that decision to bench [the] student-athletes.”
This is the third-time that Minnesota had won nine or more games. The other times were when they won ten games in 2003 and in 1905.
Claeys leaves the school with an 11-8 record. He went 2-4 after Kill stepped down in the middle of last season.
With Claeys out of the way, the Minnesota administration is expected to target Western Michigan head coach P.J. Fleck.
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