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UTM football coach leaves program

Published (Volume 77, No. 13)

Skyhawk football coach DeLane Fitzgerald, 28, was officially terminated from his position as running backs and special teams coach effective today. Fitzgerald has been coaching at UTM for two years.

Before coming to Martin, he was defensive line coordinator at James Madison University for one year.

On Saturday, Nov. 13, after the Skyhawks’ game against Murray State, head coach Matt Griffin spoke with Fitzgerald, and informed him that he would no longer be employed by the university.

The official reason cited for Fitzgerald’s termination in personnel records is “unsatisfactory work performance.”
Fitzgerald’s termination as running backs coach comes days after running back Donald Chapman was named the first Ohio Valley Conference Freshman of the Year.

For the 2004 season, Chapman ranks 16th nationally in rushing with 108.4 average yards per game. Chapman also became UTM’s first thousand-yard rusher in 16 years.

When speaking of Fitzgerald’s departure from the program, Chapman said, “I believe the coaching staff did what was best for the team.”

“Donald (Chapman)’s success is not necessarily related to coaching,” said sports information director Joe Lofaro. “Coach Griffin decided he wanted make a change in his staff, and that’s not unusual. Being the head coach, that’s his prerogative.”

Lofaro said that many coaches are fired annually throughout the NCAA and the situation with Fitzgerald is not unusual.
The university has not named Fitzgerald’s successor, and Fitzgerald was unavailable for comment as of press time.