Tuesday January 22, 2008

End of an Era

Mike Kelly will step down as UD's football coach, but stay with the Flyers and be inducted into the UD Athletic Hall of Fame.

University of Dayton football coach Mike Kelly announced today that he is stepping down as UD's football coach, ending one of the winningest coaching careers in the history of college football. He will remain at UD and expand his duties as an Associate Director of Athletics.

Kelly's 27-year run at UD concludes with an .819 winning percentage (246-54-1), the fourth-best percentage among coaches with at least 25 years experience. Florida A&M's legendary Jake Gaither is No. 1 (.844), Nebraska's Tom Osborne is second (.836) and Michigan's Fielding Yost (.828) is third.

The 2007 Flyers were 11-1, and were awarded the Sports Network Cup, which goes to the nation's No. 1 team at the NCAA FCS Mid-Major level.

"Before this past football season began, I had made the decision to step down as the football coach," Kelly said. "To have the opportunity to be a coach at the University of Dayton for the past 31 years is beyond anything I ever imagined.

"No one could have asked for better support from the administration, the community, the many outstanding student-athletes and their parents, or all the men I have coached with. The experience has simply been incredible for our family. The way the 2007 season turned out was just the icing on the cake."

"I look forward to putting forth my energy into an expanded administrative role within the athletics division."

Kelly, 59, came to UD in 1977 as Rick Carter's defensive coordinator. After the Flyers won the 1980 NCAA Division III national championship, Carter moved on to Holy Cross and Kelly was named Dayton's head coach.

During his first 12 years as head coach, the Flyers were in the NCAA Division III category and went to the playoffs eight times. Dayton went to the national title game four times under Kelly's leadership, winning the 1989 national title.

In addition to the 1989 NCAA Division III national title, Kelly's Flyers were also NCAA FCS Mid-Major national champions (by a national poll) in 2002 and 2007.

Kelly cemented his place among college football's coaching giants during the 2002 season when he became the second-fastest (now third-fastest) coach in NCAA history to reach 200 wins. He made it in just 242 games--faster than Joe Paterno, faster than Bo Schembechler, faster than Woody Hayes, faster than Bear Bryant.

Kelly was the Pioneer Football League's Coach of the Year seven out of the 15 years the league has been in existence, and a national coach of the year seven times. Since the Pioneer Football League began play in 1993, UD won the championship outright six times and tied for the title three times.

Forty-four of UD's 46 Academic All-America selections have played for Kelly, and UD has produced 84 first team All-Americans in the Kelly era.

Kelly is UD's record holder in wins, having almost twice as many as College Football Hall of Famer Harry Baujan's 124. Kelly's 27 years as a head coach is also the longest tenure of any head coach in any sport at the University of Dayton.

"Mike Kelly is the best coach I have ever worked with or competed against," said Ted Kissell, UD Vice-President and Director of Athletics Ted Kissell. "He embodies all that is right with intercollegiate athletics. Coach Kelly has been an example to all of us. I can speak for everyone he has worked with when I say 'Thank you, Mike.'"

Kissell also announced that Kelly will be the sole inductee in the 2008 University of Dayton Athletic Hall of Fame Class. Kelly will be 150th member of the Hall when he is inducted on February 16.

Doug Hauschild 937-229-4390

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