Michigan State’s Dantonio steps down

Former Michigan State University head coach Mark Dantonio, 2015. Photo courtesy Smithsonian92/Wikipedia.

The winningest football coach at Michigan State University is trading his headset for a desk job.

Mark Dantonio announced via his Twitter account Tuesday afternoon that he is stepping down as head football coach, effective immediately. In a letter to the Michigan State community included with his tweet, Dantonio said he was planning to move into a different role within the MSU athletic department.

“My plan is to stay on within the university and athletic department in a role involving special projects, especially transitioning our players, both current and incoming, to their next challenges,” Dantonio wrote.

The announcement of Dantonio’s departure has come as a surprise to some college football fans. His tenure also spanned a period of turmoil for the university. Michigan State is recovering from the fallout of the Larry Nassar scandal, in which scores of MSU student-athletes said the former team physician sexually assaulted them. The scandal has resulted in the resignation of an athletic director and two university presidents.

In his letter, Dantonio hinted at wanting to spend more time with his family.

“This job has always been a 24/7 365-day position,” Dantonio wrote. “There is no downtime, and it is filled with the demands and challenges of managing games, players, coaches, recruits, donors, staff, media, an enthusiastic fan base, and competition at the very highest level. I will miss it all but feel the sacrifices I have made away from my family must now become a priority at this time in my life.”

Dantonio, 63, joined the Spartans in the winter of 2007, from the University of Cincinnati. In his 13 seasons, he compiled an overall record of 115-57, five more than MSU coaching legend Duffy Daugherty. His record in the Big Ten Conference was 69-39, and it included three conference titles, a Rose Bowl victory in 2014, and a trip to the College Football Playoff in 2015.

He also had an 8-5 record against cross-state rival Michigan, though the Spartans have a current two-game losing streak against the Wolverines. Dantonio also had a 6-6 bowl record at MSU.