New Montana athletics director Kent Haslam called the Grizzlies’ 5-6 record disappointing in an open letter to Griz fans on Monday but also confirmed that football coach Mick Delaney would return next season.
The open letter was posted on the athletic department’s website, its Facebook page and released to the media via email.
While noting that he was disappointed with the Griz football team’s first losing record since 1985, Haslam said: “At the same time, I appreciate the team’s hard work, and head coach Mick Delaney’s time, dedication, and heartfelt commitment to our football student-athletes. He and the assistant coaches have worked tirelessly.
“I look forward to his returning as the head coach for the 2013 football season and working toward a Big Sky Conference championship.”
Haslam also said he looks forward to resolving the NCAA’s ongoing investigation of the football program and that senior associate athletics director Jean Gee is working with the NCAA to conclude the matter.
When the NCAA notified the university of the inquiry Jan. 30, it said such investigations usually take about six months. In late July, the NCAA told UM that the inquiry would continue for an unspecified amount of time.
The NCAA also has a long-term investigation into the University of Miami’s football program that has led to the school self-imposing a bowl ban for each of the past two seasons. That inquiry began in March 2011.
The university is also under investigation by the U.S. Justice Department for how it handles reports of rape and sexual assault, and the federal Department of Education has its own investigation into allegations of harassment by members of the football team.
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Montana’s Jordan Tripp is among the finalists for the Buck Buchanan award, given to the top defensive player in the Division I Football Championship Subdivision.
The Missoula Big Sky graduate is one of 20 finalists for the award announced Monday.
Tripp has made 95 total tackles this season, 26 solo, along with 12 sacks and four forced fumbles.
Montana State defensive end Caleb Schreibeis, a senior from Billings, is also a Buchanan finalist. He has 51 total tackles, 22 solo, and an FCS-leading seven forced fumbles. He was among four players added to the list on Monday.
MSU quarterback DeNarius McGhee is among the finalists for the Walter Payton Award, signifying the FCS offensive player of the year. McGhee has passed for 2,731 yards and 22 touchdowns, along with running for 269 yards and four TDs.
Northern Arizona running back Zach Bauman, Southern Utah QB Brad Sorensen and Cal Poly running back Deonte Williams are also Payton finalists.
Eastern Washington quarterback Vernon Adams, Southern Utah linebacker Zak Browning and defensive end James Cowser, North Dakota wide receiver Jameer Jackson and Portland State QB Kieran McDonagh are among the 20 finalists for the Jerry Rice Award, presented to the top first-year FCS player.
Cal Poly coach Tim Walsh and Beau Baldwin – his counterpart at Eastern Washington – are among the finalists for the Eddie Robinson Award, given to the FCS coach of the year.
Cal Poly (9-2) opened the season with seven straight wins, including one at Wyoming. Eastern Washington (9-2) was the Big Sky’s co-champion with Montana State and Cal Poly, getting the league’s automatic playoff bid via tiebreaker.
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Schreibeis and teammate Rory Perez were honored by the Big Sky on Monday for their performance in the Bobcats’ 16-7 victory over Montana on Saturday.
Schreibeis, the league’s co-defensive player of the week, had a career single-game high 16 tackles to go with a sack and two pass deflections for MSU. He split the award with Cal Poly linebacker Nick Dzubnar and Northern Colorado defensive back Marcel Gibbons.
Perez was named special teams player of the week after kicking three field goals and an extra point for MSU, while also averaging 43.3 yards per punt in the game.
Eastern Washington quarterback Kyle Padron and Weber State running back C.J. Tuckett shared the Big Sky offensive player of the week award.