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'U' Athletic Director Defends Firing Of Coach Claeys

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- The University of Minnesota is looking for a new head football coach after a winning season marred by scandal.

Athletic Director Mark Coyle fired Tracy Claeys and his assistants Tuesday afternoon. He said the move is in the best interest of the program moving forward.

Claeys served as head coach since October 2015, taking over when Jerry Kill left for health reasons.

Claeys texted WCCO's Mike Max after meeting with Coyle Tuesday afternoon that said, simply, "I just got fired." On Tuesday night, Mark Coyle tried to explain.

Players were more than a little upset, and the Chairman of the Board of Regents gave his summation. Mark Coyle clearly wanted to make a change, saying it was not just about the recent sexual assault allegations. He claimed the football program failed to meet his expectations.

"This isn't about one specific incident," Coyle said. "I've been here six months. I've gotten the chance to look at that program and all of our programs, and I don't think it's fair to say one thing. I think the events over the past few weeks underscored the concerns in some of the things I've been seeing in that program."

Players would beg to differ. Some say they have not just great support for Claeys, but were borderline offended by Coyle's comments.

"It's just hard for me to understand where's he's coming from when he doesn't think the program is successful after a 9-4 season," Gophers quarterback Mitch Leidner said. "It just rubs me the wrong way, and I know it rubs a lot of the guys on the team the wrong way as well, because we do have a lot of class on this team."

The President and Regents signed off on what Coyle said was his decision when Coyle told them some of his reasons.

"Looking at a number of situations -- recruiting, ticket sales, culture and other things -- it was his recommendation after a long, long discussion -- I'm talking two-plus hours -- that Coach Claeys be replaced as head coach at the University of Minnesota," Chair of the University of Minnesota Board of Regents Dean Johnson said.

WATCH: University of Minnesota Athletic Director Mark Coyle's Full Press Conference

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