UTC "Reassigns" Football Coach Donnie Kirkpatrick

Search Is On For New Moc Coach, Assistants

Monday, November 11, 2002
Donnie Kirkpatrick
Donnie Kirkpatrick

UTC is "reassigning" football coach Donnie Kirkpatrick after the current season, and a search is on for a new coach.

Athletic Director Steve Sloan said at a Tuesday afternoon press conference: "If you are in the South and you play football, it's fairly important that you win."

The Mocs lost their first nine games this season before beating the Citadel on Saturday 34-31.

Sloan said Kirkpatrick was given the option of coaching the last two games, "and we are grateful that he agreed to do so."

He said the Mocs want to find a coach who can bring a national championship.

Sloan said he would like to hire "somebody I know so there is not a learning curve between the AD and the coach." He also said he would like to have someone who is a good recruiter and is familiar with the Tennessee, Georgia and Alabama area players.

He said the candidate does not necessarily need to have head coaching experience, but must be a person who believes in "value-based coaching" and hiring assistants with that philosophy.

He said UTC would begin immediately advertising for the position and wants to make a decision by the first of December "so we do not lose a recruiting year."

He said the university "waited as long as we could" to make the announcement, but could wait no longer because of the need to start recruiting for next season. He said the Mocs have a number of seniors and "a lot of scholarships to offer." But he said the team also has "some good young players" the new coach can build on.

Sloan said he met a couple of weeks ago with Kirkpatrick and then again Monday, saying he wanted to give him plenty of notice.

He said the Kirkpatrick contract apparently calls for two more years. He said the administration could assign him to a position within athletics or elsewhere.

But he said Kirkpatrick "is a good offensive coach and he may opt for a buyout of the contract." Sloan said he did not know where the funding would come to pay the buyout.

But he said there is money available to hire the new coach. He said, "That will not be a problem." He said the new coach should have a long-term contract and be willing to make a commitment to UTC.

Sloan said he has not called anyone about the vacancy, but he said he has received a number of inquiries. He said, "It seems like Chattanooga is an interesting place for a lot of people."

He said if the Mocs are to have the best mid-sized sports program, then it needs the best mid-sized football team.

He said UTC already can offer "the best stadium, the best city and a great university." He said it needs to improve on some of its facilities.

On the Kirkpatrick tenure, he said there is "no particular reason" for the losses. He said, "Sometimes no matter how hard you work and no matter how many hours you put in, you still can't win enough games in order to be successful."

Sloan said, "There are no losers on this team. A loser by definition is one who gives up. This team does not give up."

He said he hopes the Mocs win the last two games "for the coaching staff and for themselves."

He said the team "has played much better the last five games than the first five games, and that's a credit to Coach Kirkpatrick and his staff."

He said a selection committee has not been named, but will be soon.

Donnie has worked hard," Sloan said. "His staff has worked equally as hard. Unfortunately, things just haven't worked out as anticipated."

Kirkpatrick was hired as the school's head coach Feb. 19, 2000, after
serving one year as a defensive assistant at UTC and one year as the
offensive coordinator. His three-year head-coaching record with the Mocs is 9-23.

Sloan called the announcement "a low moment. I don't take any pleasure in doing this."

Kirkpatrick was not at the press conference. Shortly before it started, he was seen jogging in front of the McKenzie Arena where it was held.

Steve Sloan makes announcement
Steve Sloan makes announcement
- photo by John Wilson

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