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Dayton football coach Kelly steps down after 27 years

Dayton, OH (Sports Network) - University of Dayton football coach Mike Kelly announced Tuesday he is stepping away from the position after 27 years at the helm.

However, he will remain at the school and expand his duties as an Associate Director of Athletics. Kelly said current defensive coordinator Rick Chamberlin would take over as head coach.

Kelly made the decision to leave before the 2007 season, when the Flyers went 11-1 and won the Sports Network Cup, which is awarded to the nation's top mid- major program in the Football Championship Subdivision.

"It was one of (those) things that was going to happen no matter how we did this year," Kelly said. "But it was nice to finish the way we did - outstanding team, outstanding group of young men."

Overall, Kelly's teams went 246-54-1, and that .819 winning percentage ranks fourth all-time among college coaches with at least 25 years of experience.

Only Florida A&M's Jake Gaither (.844), Nebraska's Tom Osborne (.836), and Michigan's Fielding Yost (.828) had higher success rates.

Kelly started at Dayton in 1977 as defensive coordinator, and helped the Flyers win the NCAA Division III national championship under head coach Rick Carter in 1980.

The following season, Kelly was named head coach, and the successes piled up. For the first 12 years of Kelly's head coaching tenure, Dayton competed in Division III and won the national title in 1989.

In 1993, the Flyers joined the Division I-AA ranks in the Pioneer League, and have since won the league championship six times outright, and tied for it three other times. Dayton also won the Sports Network Cup in 2002.

As for why he stepped down after 31 years as a coach for Dayton, Kelly said he felt he was "cheating the program."

"The last three years have come to the point where you're maybe out on the field or maybe at your desk and you think to yourself, 'Do I really want to keep doing this?'" Kelly said. "And I felt it wasn't fair. That's not what it's about. If the head coach is thinking this it's not fair to the players. It's time for someone else to take charge."

Nevertheless, Kelly's legacy is in place, and he was offered effusive praise after making his decision.

"Mike Kelly is the best of the best. He embodies all that is right about intercollegiate athletics," Dayton athletic director Ted Kissell said.

01/22 19:42:38 ET