ATHENS, Ga. - Mark Richt is out as head football coach at the University of Georgia. His departure was announced in a statement from the university early Sunday afternoon.
According to the statement, Richt met with Athletics Director Greg McGarity Sunday morning to discuss the state of the football program. In that meeting, Richt and McGarity agreed that Richt would leave his post as head coach. He will coach the team through a bowl game this season, then have the opportunity to accept another position at the University of Georgia.
“I appreciate the opportunity of serving the University as well as considering any other options that may present themselves in the future,” said Richt.
Bulldogs players attended a team meeting with Richt Sunday night on the UGA campus. Before the meeting, senior fullback Quayvon Hicks said of Richt's departure, "You've got to just understand that it's a part of the business, and do what you can to help the program. I think he's done everything he can do... and obviously that decision is out of his hands, it's out of our hands... so as a team, we've got to make sure that we stay together."
The meeting lasted about a half-hour. Few players would comment afterwards, saying that they had been asked not to discuss what happened during that meeting. A couple of players who did comment briefly, however, expressed support for current UGA defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt.
The university plans to hold a news conference Monday to discuss the coaching situation. Greg McGarity and Mark Richt are expected to address the media. There's no immediate word on the status of the search for a new coach. FOX 5 Sports has a look at several potential candidates to replace Richt.
Going into this year's bowl game, Richt has a 145-51 overall record as head coach at UGA, and a 83-37 record in SEC play. His teams won two SEC championships, but his last SEC title came in 2005.
“Mark's record on the field was outstanding; however, his impact on college football goes well beyond the gridiron. His fingerprints are evident on shaping the lives of children, many of whom attend a Bulldog summer camp or a retreat; they are evident on the prospective student-athletes as they determine what college to attend --- whether it be UGA or a competitor; they are evident on his current players, and probably even more so, on those who have lettered and are in the workplace, as fathers and husbands. For those contributions, we are sincerely appreciative,” McGarity said in Sunday's statement.
“Mark has touched thousands of lives over the past 15 years --- he has a huge heart and his positive influence has affected many people, young and old. We will never actually know how many people were positively impacted by a comforting phone call, a sympathetic or uplifting note, an autographed football or photo --- he had the unique ability to shine a bright light on others when they needed it most.”
“Mark has the opportunity to remain on our staff at the University of Georgia, and would be heavily involved with outreach programs for our former football lettermen via the PO Network as well as other University and Athletic Association initiatives. We wish Mark, Katharyn and his family the best as he enters a new chapter of his life.”
Georgia (9-3) concluded its regular season with Saturday's 13-7 win over Georgia Tech.