Sean Woods has resigned as Morehead State’s coach following an independent investigation into allegations by two players that Woods assaulted them.
His resignation Thursday comes two days after Woods was charged with misdemeanor battery in Indiana.
Athletic director Brian Hutchinson on Thursday announced Woods’ resignation after the coach went 77-65 in four-plus seasons with the Eagles, including 2-2 this fall. Woods had been suspended since Nov. 22 and Morehead State began investigating unspecified “complaints received” about him. Police in Evansville, Ind., on Tuesday filed the battery charge against Woods. A hearing has been set for Feb. 9.
Hutchinson said in a statement Wednesday that the university’s investigation, independent of the athletic department, was nearing completion. In a brief news conference Thursday adjacent to the Eagles’ arena, Hutchinson described the situation involving Woods as a “tough one.”
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Reading from a prepared statement, the AD said the investigation process was not influenced by any other proceedings. He added, “With the resignation of Sean Woods, it is critical we use our energy and resources to ensure our student-athletes can thrive in the environment we provide them.”
Hutchinson said Preston Spradlin, an assistant on Woods’ staff, will continue as interim head coach of the Eagles (2-7). The team has lost seven straight, including five in a row, since Woods’ suspension. The AD said the current coaching staff will remain through the end of the season and that a national search for Woods’ successor will begin after the Christmas holidays.
Two players stated in an affidavit that they had altercations with Woods during a Nov. 19 game at the University of Evansville.
Sophomore Malik Maitland says the coach backhanded him in the chest and junior Soufiyane Diakite says Woods shoved him twice when the Eagles played last month at the University of Evansville.
Maitland stated in the document that Woods caused pain when he struck him during halftime of the game. Diakite stated in the affidavit that Woods pushed him once during a timeout and in the locker room, and added that he saw the coach hit Maitland.
Woods’ resignation comes just over four years after Morehead State suspended him one game for berating player Devon Atkinson on the bench and appearing to make contact with him during a loss at Kentucky, where he played collegiately from 1988-92. He was a member of the 1991-92 “Unforgettables” squad that lost to Duke in the NCAA Tournament on a last-second shot by Christian Laettner, a contest widely considered the greatest college game ever played.
Woods apologized for his behavior in that exchange.
Asked whether Woods’ prior incident was considered in the investigation, Hutchinson said it was focused solely on last month’s confrontation. The AD said despite the losing streak and recent attention, he was encouraged by players’ attitudes to succeed.
“They’re a resilient bunch,” Hutchinson said. “I’m excited about what they bring to the table. The conversation with them today was validating for me that I believe they’re absolutely focused on the goal at hand, which is winning the (Ohio Valley Conference) championship and going to the NCAA Tournament.
“It’s been a tough stretch, but all their energies are centered on that.”