Joker Phillips will not return next season, Kentucky AD announces
|Written by Chris Vannini|
Posted by: Chris Vannini on November 4, 2012
Joker Phillips will not return next season, Kentucky athletic director Mitch Barnhart announced in a letter to fans on UK's official website.
"After much conversation, evaluation and prayer, I have determined that it is in the best interest of our athletics program to make a change in our football coaching staff at the conclusion of the season," Barnhart wrote. "I do so with a heavy heart for a man who has served his alma mater for almost 22 years as a player and a coach. Joker Phillips has carried the banner for the Blue and White with honor and pride. I have enjoyed working alongside him and am thankful for his friendship for the last decade.
"His concern for the entire program, his work and teaching of young people, his humanitarian work, and the friendship we all enjoy with him will long surpass the scoreboard. I want to thank him for all of those things on behalf of Kentucky."
Phillips was an assistant at Kentucky from 1988-1996 and again from 2004-2009 before becoming the head coach in 2010. But the Wildcats have posted a 12-23 record over two-plus seasons, including a 1-9 record this year and a 0-7 record in the SEC.
It's certainly difficult to win in the SEC, but Phillips has posted a 4-19 record in the conference, including a 40-0 home loss to Vanderbilt on Saturday.
Phillips will finish out the season, but Barnhart said a search for a new coach would begin right away.
"The search for a new head coach will begin immediately and will be managed internally," Barnhart wrote. "I understand the challenge and significance of finding a new leader for our football program. It will be done with great concern for our student-athletes, students of the University of Kentucky, the Big Blue Nation and the citizens of the Commonwealth. Kentucky Football needs to be and will be a championship contender in the SEC."
You can read the entire letter by clicking here.
Update: Joker Phillips has released a statement through the school. Below is the entire statement.
"We, as coaches, are measured on results. We didn't get the results we had worked and hoped for, therefore change is needed. In my current 10-year stay at Kentucky, we've had some memorable moments as an assistant, coordinator and head coach. We've had the opportunity to coach some fine young men and I am grateful to have had the privilege of watching them grow as players, as students and as people.
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Chris Vannini is the lead writer for CoachingSearch.com and has covered Michigan State sports for The State News, The Oakland Press and MLive.com. He writes a weekly column for the Detroit Free Press on behalf of SB Nation. Vannini lives in Big Ten country, so his foot speed is far from SEC caliber, but his pulse on coaches is hard to match. Be sure to follow @CoachingBuzz on twitter and send your feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org
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