this Nov. 28, 2015, file photo, Georgia head coach
Mark Richt celebrates as he walks off the field after
his team defeated Georgia Tech 13-7 in an NCAA college
football game in Atlanta, Ga. Richt is stepping down
after 15 seasons in what is being called a
"mutual" decision. Georgia athletic director
Greg McGarity says he met with Richt on Sunday
morning, Nov. 29, 2015, "to discuss the status of
our football program" and "mutually agreed
that he would step down as head coach and would have
the opportunity to accept other duties and
responsibilities at UGA following the bowl game."
ATHENS, Ga. — Georgia is
presenting Mark Richt's exit as coach as a mutual decision,
and Sunday's announcement came padded with tributes usually
reserved for retiring legends.
Glowing compliments for Richt
came from University of Georgia president Jere Morehead and
athletic director Greg McGarity. Richt has been allowed to
remain as coach through the team's bowl game. New home pages
for the athletic department's Web site were constructed to
pay tribute to Richt.
All of Sunday's warm and
fuzzy tributes couldn't overshadow the fact Richt insisted
one day earlier he had plans to be on the job for the
immediate and long-term future.
McGarity met with Richt on
Sunday morning. Soon after, Georgia announced the news that
Richt was out as coach.
McGarity said in a statement
released by the school the two "mutually agreed that he
would step down as head coach."
Richt has been offered a
chance to remain at Georgia in a new role that McGarity said
would include helping former Georgia players and
McGarity had generous praise
for Richt, who ranks second in all-time coaching wins at the
"Mark has touched
thousands of lives over the past 15 years," McGarity
said. "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
Morehead said Richt "has
been an outstanding coach and mentor to our
"I am deeply grateful
for his many years of dedicated service to the University of
Georgia, and I particularly appreciate the positive way he
has represented UGA," Morehead said.
Richt had a short meeting
with his players Sunday night. A news conference was
scheduled for Monday.
"I wish the best for
him," said senior fullback Quayvon Hicks before the
meeting. "I enjoyed my four years here with him. ... We
have to understand it is part of the business.
"We've got to make sure
we stay together and our minds are right. It's bigger than
Several players declined
comment following the meeting.
Fans set up a small tribute
for Richt outside the team's football facility. The words
"Thanks Coach Richt" were written on a white
poster board, situated near a burning candle. A smaller sign
said "Fire McGarity."
Georgia (9-3) ended its
regular season with Saturday's 13-7 win over Georgia Tech.
The win left Richt 13-2 in the state rivalry.
It was clear following the
game Richt had no plans to step down. He said he planned to
begin recruiting "and getting prepared for the future
Richt had only a short
statement in the announcement released by Georgia.
"I appreciate the
opportunity of serving the University as well as considering
any other options that may present themselves in the
future," Richt said.
There has been speculation
about Richt's future since losses to Tennessee, Alabama and
Florida ended the Bulldogs' hopes for a Southeastern
Conference championship. Georgia closed the regular season
with four straight wins, but that was not enough to make up
for failing to land a spot in the title game. The Bulldogs
were the preseason pick in the SEC East.
Richt, 55, acknowledged
Saturday the team "came up short of our goal" to
win the SEC championship.
"That's the standard
here," Richt said. "Win the SEC and hopefully go
beyond that. From that point of view, we fell short of our
Alabama coach Nick Saban
reacted to the news with shock.
"I don't know what the
world's coming to in our profession," Saban said.
"Mark Richt's been a really good coach and a really
positive person in our profession for a long, long time. I
think when you win nine games, that's a pretty good season,
especially with the body of work that he's been able to put
together there for however many years he's been there."
Richt is 145-51 with two SEC
championships. Only Vince Dooley (201) won more games at