Tuesday, September 09, 2014

June Jones resigns from SMU

Former University of Hawaii coach June Jones, who engineered two of the biggest turnarounds in college football history, abruptly resigned from his latest one Monday at Southern Methodist University.

Two days after saying, "we just have to keep fighting," in the wake of an 0-2 start in which the Mustangs had been outscored 88-6, Jones announced his immediate departure from SMU to deal with undisclosed "personal issues."

Jones, 61, had signed a three-year contract extension just before Christmas that was to take him through 2017 at an annual salary reported to be $2.1 million.

"This job has a lot of demands, as you know, and along with that journey comes a price that is paid. I have some personal issues I have been dealing with and I need to take a step away so I can address them at this time," Jones said in a statement distributed by SMU.

Jones did not attend a press conference and did not immediately return phone calls or text messages.

His departure was first announced by agent Leigh Steinberg, who tweeted, "JUNE JONES RESIGNS SMU COACHING JOB--June had felt for some time he had accomplished mission to turn around program and needed a break."

Jones, a former UH player (1973-74) and assistant coach (1983), became head coach in 1999, taking over a team that had gone 0-12 in 1998. He immediately oversaw what remains the biggest single-season turnaround in NCAA major college history, taking UH to a 9-4 finish, a share of the WAC championship and a bowl game victory over Oregon State.

He managed seven winning seasons in nine years and took UH to six bowl games.

Jones left following the 12-1 Sugar Bowl season of 2007 and remains the winningest football coach in school history with a record of 76-41.

He took over an SMU program scarred by NCAA sanctions, including the first "death penalty." SMU did not field a football team in 1987 or '88 and had one winning season in 19 years preceding Jones' arrival.

But that changed in his second year with an 8-5 finish, a Conference USA divisional title and Sheraton Hawaii Bowl victory, the school's first bowl in 25 years. It was the first of four consecutive bowl appearances.

Jones, who has maintained a condo in Hawaii and an 808 phone number, has always talked about eventually returning to the islands. Immediately after the resignation was announced Monday, there was widespread speculation about Jones returning to UH. But athletic director Ben Jay said there was no plan to talk to Jones about a position at UH, where head coach Norm Chow is 4-22 in two-plus seasons. Chow's $550,000-a-year contract runs through 2016.

Jay said, "I'm sticking with Norm (Chow). Norm deserves our support and we'll see how the season goes."

In the past Jones has also talked about someday returning to UH as an administrator.

*** [12/17/14, posted 12/22/14]  June Jones on Leahey and Leahey



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