Kiernan quits as head coach

Gannon University football coach Jim Kiernan has resigned after five years as head coach of the Knights.

Gannon Director of Athletics Mark Richard said Kiernan informed him of his decision the morning of Tuesday, Feb 21. Kiernan told the team following a meeting that Thursday.

“Coach came into my office Tuesday morning and tendered his resignation, and it hit me like a ton of bricks,” Richard said. “Coach Kiernan said he didn’t think he could put in the hours like he had before so he and we as a university did not think that was fair to the team.”

Defensive coordinator Brad Rzyczycki has been named interim head coach. Richard said Gannon will begin its search for a new head coach within the next few weeks.

Kiernan leaves with a record of 21-34 in five seasons after the Knights went 4-7 in 2011.

“While I have a great competitive spirit, this profession is very demanding. As a head coach, the commitment level is 24/7,” Kiernan said in a news release via the Gannon sports information department. “I need to focus my attention back to taking care of my own personal and family matters.”

Redshirt freshman and starting quarterback Daniel Tapscott said Kiernan informed the team of his decision at a team meeting following the Knights’ morning workout.

“It was a pretty big shock for everyone, and it got pretty emotional,” Tapscott said.

According to Tapscott, Kiernan told the team he does not plan on coaching next year.

Kiernan’s decision leaves the Knights facing a high degree of uncertainty for 2012.

“We have spring ball starting in a few weeks, and at this point, we don’t have an offensive coordinator; we don’t know what our offense will be,” Tapscott said. “We just know there’ll be a battle for every position, because the next coach won’t care what happened last season.”

Richard said he is working with Gannon’s Human Resources department and hopes to have a job posting on Gannon’s and the NCAA’s employment website by March 14.

Kiernan came to Gannon after serving as offensive coordinator for Saginaw Valley State University from 1999-2006.

Kiernan, who has not responded to any media requests, took over the Gannon program in 2007 and led the Knights to a 1-10 record that year before producing a 4-7 record in 2008. The Knights then put together back-to-back 6-5 records in 2009 and 2010.

Gannon gave Kiernan a contract extension through the 2013-14 academic year in January, 2011.

Richard said he was given no reason for the timing of Kiernan’s departure.

“I think everything was cumulative, and he realized there’s never really a good time to leave,” he said.

In addition to a losing record, this season also included several off-the-field issues. Assistant coaches Michael Smith and Darren Paige received non-traffic citations for their roles in what police called a fight outside of the Boardwalk Complex with former Gannon wide receiver Kendall Brown. The charges were later withdrawn.

One week later, Indiana Borough police charged then graduate assistant Anthony Ferla with indecent exposure, public urination, disorderly conduct and public drunkenness prior to the Knights’ game against IUP.

Richard confirmed that Paige has left Gannon to take a graduate assistant job at Kent State University. Smith remains on the staff.

JOE CUNEO

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