(AP) – Virginia coach Bronco Mendenhall is stepping down after the Cavaliers play their bowl game, abruptly ending his tenure at the school after six seasons.
The surprising announcement came in a news release Thursday. In a hastily organized conference call with reporters, Mendenhall said the decision was his alone and that both athletic director Carla Williams and university president Jim Ryan asked him to stay.
“It’s just a chance after 31 years straight to step back, and renew and recover,” the 55-year-old Mendenhall said, adding he did not view this as permanently leaving coaching.
“Holly, my wife, is a little shocked, too,” he said.
Mendenhall said he told his staff at 4:45 p.m. EST and his team at 5 p.m. before getting on the call with reporters at 5:30 p.m.
The team’s reaction?
“They had similar reactions, tears, shock, sadness, disbelief, yeah, and it’s going to take time to process,” he said.
Mendenhall went 36-38 at Virginia, leading the Cavaliers to five straight bowl appearances and their only Atlantic Coast Conference title game appearance two years ago. Virginia also snapped a 15-game losing streak against rival Virginia Tech in 2019.
The Cavaliers finished this season 6-6 after losing to Virginia Tech last Saturday.
The Hokies played that game with an interim coach and introduced their new head coach, former Penn State defensive coordinator Brent Pry, earlier Thursday.
Mendenhall came to Virginia after 11 seasons as head coach at BYU. That, too, was a surprising move at the time.
The Utah native was 99-43 with the Cougars.