Change is sweeping through the Eastern Kentucky University athletics program, and football coach Dean Hood became the latest departure Monday.
Athletics Director Steve Lochmueller announced the firing of Hood in a four-paragraph news release.
The Colonels finished the 2015 season with a 21-7 loss at Eastern Illinois on Saturday, completing a 6-5 campaign and failing to qualify for postseason play.
“I want to thank Dean for his service to Eastern Kentucky University,” Lochmueller said in the news release. “These decisions are never taken lightly. After a careful review of our football program, I feel a change in leadership is needed.”
A national search for Eastern Kentucky’s next head football coach will begin immediately, Lochmueller said.
Since Lochmueller, a former University of Kentucky basketball player, took charge of EKU Athletics last March, the school has replaced head coaches in men’s basketball, baseball, women’s soccer and now football.
Hood went 55-38 in eight seasons as head coach. The 2015 squad finished in fourth place in the Ohio Valley Conference with a 5-3 mark.
Hood led Eastern Kentucky to Football Championship Subdivision playoff appearances in 2014, 2011 and 2008, all resulting in first-round defeats. The Colonels last won a postseason football game in 1994, when it advanced to the national quarterfinals under Coach Roy Kidd.
EKU has made 21 postseason appearances all-time, the second most behind Montana’s 23 in FCS history. The program won national championships in 1979 and 1982 and finished as national runners-up in 1980 and 1981 under the Hall of Famer Kidd.
The Colonels’ 2015 season began with high hopes, with 18 starters returning from a squad that finished 9-2 and second in the OVC in 2014. The Colonels boasted the league’s preseason offensive player of the year in UK transfer Dy’Shawn Mobley and added another Football Bowl Subdivision transfer to its defense in former Ohio State standout Noah Spence.
But injuries derailed Mobley’s season and the Colonels fell victim to a brutal schedule that included more road games than home contests. EKU won four of its five home games but went 2-4 on the road. The Colonels dropped three of their final four games after a 5-2 start that included pushing Kentucky to overtime in Commonwealth Stadium before losing 34-27.
Another disappointment for the Colonels this fall came when Lochmueller’s bid to take Eastern Kentucky to the FBS was denied, with the Sun Belt Conference choosing Coastal Carolina’s application over EKU’s.
Lochmueller’s first task as athletics director was to replace longtime men’s basketball coach Jeff Neubauer, who left for Fordham. He chose former Rick Pitino assistant Dan McHale, who has the Colonels off to a 4-1 start this season.
Lochmueller decided not to retain baseball coach Jason Stein, and replaced him with former Georgia State assistant Edwin Thompson. Melissa Barnes resigned as women’s soccer coach to pursue opportunities outside of coaching. Andrew Fleming has been running the team in the interim.
Dean Hood’s record