By David McCabe
Ted Stanley, who served for nine seasons as Kenyon’s Head Football Coach, resigned from the position on Monday, Nov. 14, bringing an end to his career’s parabolic trajectory following a 26-7 loss to Denison on Saturday and two consecutive winless seasons.
In an emotional meeting Monday evening, during which Stanley reportedly teared up, the former coach told the team he has led since 2003 of his resignation. He said that in choosing to resign, he was doing what was best for his family, according to player Reed Franklin ’14.
In making that choice, however, he is leaving a team that players described as another type of family. “He had a pretty close relationship with everyone on the team,” Franklin said.
Despite the team’s dismal record in recent years, many players expressed affection and respect for the former coach. “People will miss him,” linebacker Jordan Wehner ‘14 said. “He was a good coach, a good person.”
“You know, it’s a real bond that [the football players] build, and a lot of that was because of the head coach, because of Coach Stanley,” Assistant Director of Athletics Doug Zipp said.
Stanley began his career at Kenyon during a perilous time for the Lords. Recruiting was down and the team’s record was abysmal. Brought in by the College to turn the program around, he was initially successful. During the 2005 season, two years after Stanley took over control of the program, the team went 6-4, losing only one conference game (to Ohio Wesleyan University).
That initial success, however, was not lasting: Stanley and the Lords have not had a winning season since then. The Lords started winning less, and then stopped winning at all.
In light of last year’s winless season, senior administrators decided to form a committee to review the program. The committee, according to College President S. Georgia Nugent, considered three questions: what could be done to improve the current season, how football and its players contribute to the College and how to develop the football recruitment strategy.
“It wasn’t about the effectiveness of the coach whatsoever,” Assistant Director of Athletics Amy Williams said.
“The team’s win/loss record is well-known, recruitment has declined dramatically and there are indications that team members are not having the positive, competitive, educational experience we hope for in Division III athletics,” Nugent wrote in an email. “Once again, it seems necessary to bring new leadership to Kenyon’s football program.”
Zipp said the administration did not pressure Stanley to resign. “There were several conversations about the status of the football program, and then, as I said before, he made the decision to resign,” he said.
With Stanley gone, administrators are hoping to improve recruiting efforts considerably. “Their feeling was that new and different strategies need to be deployed,” Nugent wrote.
“These may include focusing on different student populations, mobilizing alumni to assist (within the acceptable NCAA parameters), providing clearer and earlier notification of a student’s likely admissibility, etc.”
Nugent said the team’s interim Head Coach Ty McGuire, who was previously the team’s defensive coordinator, will be involved in developing and implementing these new recruitment strategies.
A national search to fill the Head Coach position will begin when the College posts the job listing at the end of this week, according to Zipp. “You know, I think that us posting this position and going full steam ahead with a national search is a clear indication that football is still very viable at Kenyon,” Zipp said. “I think we’re going to be okay in the future.”
Players, meanwhile, are cautiously hopeful about the future of the program. “I think we’re going to try and move forward, you know, as a unit, and recruit well and we’ll see where we stand next year,” Wehner said.
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