Kevin Morris out as UMass football head coach

By Michael Wood

Next season, it won’t be Kevin Morris leading the Massachusetts football team into the Football Bowl Subdivision. Rather, it’ll take a national search to determine the next Minuteman coach as Morris was released from his contract yesterday morning, as released by UMass Director of Athletics John McCutcheon.

A hiring committee will be formed immediately to begin the search for a new head coach for next year, according to McCutcheon and UMass Athletics.

The move comes on the heels of a 5-6 record in the 2011 season and is right before the Minutemen will move from the Colonial Athletic Association in the Football Championship Subdivision up to the Mid-American Conference in the FBS next season.

“I thank Kevin for his hard work during his eight years with the UMass football program including the last three as head coach,” said McCutcheon following the announcement. “With the transition to the FBS and the MAC, I felt it was important for the program to have a new direction in leadership.”

Morris said that he was disappointed and saddened to learn of his dismissal, but that he was grateful to McCutcheon for the opportunity to coach at UMass.

“I was looking forward to taking UMass to the Football Bowl Subdivision and was building the program to do just that,” said Morris in his official statement. “I am disappointed that my staff will not be able to finish what they started. John McCutcheon felt it was time for a change and although I am disappointed with the decision, I do thank him and his staff for the opportunity to help shape the lives of UMass football players.”

Morris was hired on as head coach in 2009 and coached UMass for three seasons, recording a 16-17 record. He led the team to a 5-6 record in his first season. Prior to being named head coach, he served as the team’s offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach for five seasons. His best record at the helm of the program came in 2010 when the Minutemen went 6-5.

In nine years as a head coach, Morris tallied a 40-49 record, which includes six seasons at the helm of Worcester Polytechnic Institute in addition to his time at UMass. He has been coaching at the NCAA level since 1986, when he was a running backs coach at Albany, a position he held for two seasons.

Over the course of his career, Morris has also coached at Union, Stony Brook and Northeastern, in addition to Albany, WPI and UMass.

The Minutemen entered this past season ineligible for postseason contention due to their impending move to the MAC next season, which was announced in April. After dropping its final game as a member of the CAA in the FCS to James Madison, 34-17, UMass will play at least its next two seasons at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro and will be eligible to compete in postseason play in 2013, and can become eligible for bowl games after that.

Michael Wood can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @MDC_Wood.