Updated: April 17, 2010 at 12:00 am
Embattled Air Force baseball coach Mike Hutcheon will resign at the end of the season.
The Gazette first reported Hutcheon’s decision Friday night after he told his team of his plans following the Falcons’ 5-4 loss to Georgia Southern in Atlanta.
The resignation will end a tumultuous seven-season tenure that was marked by trying times on the field and problems off of it.
Friday’s loss was the Falcons’ ninth in a row and dropped them to 7-26 on the season. During Hutcheon’s tenure, Air Force is 72-271 including 13-143 in Mountain West Conference play.
A week ago, Air Force announced the suspensions of five players for violations of academy standards. The suspensions came shortly after the Falcons removed two players from the team for disciplinary issues.
The suspensions continued a trend of roster upheaval. A pair of former starters left the team during the 2009 season, and four more players were cut after it. And when two juniors decided to stop playing in August, the Falcons had just one junior remaining on their roster – and there had been 14 members of the Class of 2011 on the roster when they were freshmen.
Hutcheon, who was investigated – and cleared – by the academy for religious proselytizing early in his time at Air Force, had been under significant fire recently from some parents of former players and baseball alumni, who reached out to academy leadership seeking his removal.
According to a release from the academy, Hutcheon will be reassigned within the athletic department for the remainder of his contract – two years after this season.
Athletic director Hans Mueh did not return a message seeking comment but gave the following statement on the situation in the academy’s release:
“This was a difficult decision for everyone involved. I salute Mike for the job he did when we hired him under difficult circumstances. I only wish we would have been able to see the program develop further under his tenure. Mike will continue to be a great asset to us as an instructor in the department. We thank him for his seven years of service as our baseball coach and his service to the Academy.”
Hutcheon, who has not responded to a request from The Gazette for a comment, also issued a statement on the release:
“After a lot of thought and careful consideration I have decided to step down as the head baseball coach at the United States Air Force Academy at the conclusion of the year. It is important to note that this was a personal decision to leave the program and I never felt pressure in any way from the administration. I simply feel that the timing is right to step down and allow someone to take this program to the level we have all been working for these past six years. I would like to thank the senior staff and athletic director Hans Mueh for all of the support they have shown to me and my family”