LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) - Kansas coach Mark Mangino has resigned amid an investigation into his treatment of his players, stepping down just two years after leading the Jayhawks to the greatest season in their checkered football history.
The university made the announcement Thursday as athletic director Lew Perkins met with players to give them the news.
The school said last month it would probe Mangino's treatment of his team. In the following days, many former players described insensitive, humiliating remarks they claim he made to them in the heat of games or practice, often in front of others.
But next came a wave of support by former and current players who remained loyal, insisting Mangino had strengthened the long-struggling program with structure and discipline, crediting the rotund 53-year-old with making them better players and men.
Mangino said he had done nothing wrong and intended to return for a ninth season. He and his supporters said his trouble with Perkins, who arrived at Kansas after Mangino was hired, stemmed mostly from the season-ending, seven-game skid.
After winning their first five games this year and rising to No. 16 in the rankings, the Jayhawks were favored by many to win the Big 12 North. But instead they failed to win another game, finishing the season with a 41-39 last-second loss to archrival Missouri. That final, hard-fought defeat kept them from becoming bowl eligible for what would have been a school-record third straight year.
The investigation into Mangino was conducted by Lori Williams, Kansas' assistant athletic director for risk management.
Mangino leaves with an eight-year log of 50-48, two victories short of A.R. Kennedy's school record of 52 from 1904-10.
Voted the nation's top assistant coach when he was offensive coordinator for Oklahoma's 2000 national championship team, Mangino came to Kansas in 2002, inheriting a program in shambles, one that had always taken a back seat to basketball. He was thought to be in trouble after the 2006 season. But in 2007 Todd Reesing established himself as one of the nation's top quarterbacks and the Jayhawks posted a 12-1 record, beating Virginia Tech in the Orange Bowl.
It was the greatest season in Kansas history. Mangino was the consensus choice for national coach of the year and grateful fans and alumni poured in donations into the athletic department, triggering a wave of building projects designed to bring the facilities up to Big 12 standards.
Mangino was given a raise and contract extension through 2012.
In 2008, the Jayhawks followed up their big year with an 8-5 record and a victory in the Insight Bowl, the first time Kansas had even been to postseason games two years in a row, let alone won two straight. The 20 wins in two years also was a school record.
The 2009 season began with great promise, but Reesing and the rest of the team went into a slump and the Jayhawks were skidding when news broke that Perkins had told the players he was appointing someone to investigate allegations of verbal and emotional abuse by their coach.
A bear of a man who tips the scales at around 400 pounds, Mangino was often made fun of because of his girth. But he also won admirers for overcoming humble beginnings to rise to the top of a tough profession.
Throughout his tenure, Mangino was plagued by anger issues, starting when he was involved in an embarrassing row with officials while watching his son's high school game. Also, following a close loss to Texas, he accused officials of rigging the game so the Big 12 could get a second school into a BCS game and make more money. He issued an apology later that night.
While getting his coaching career started in Pennsylvania high schools, the native of New Castle, Pa., moonlighted as an emergency responder on state turnpikes. He once recalled a fatal accident in which he had to wade through ankle-deep blood to reach the victims.
Kansas State coach Bill Snyder gave him his big break when he made him a member of the great staff that included future Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops in 1991. In 1999, Stoops hired him as offensive coordinator at Oklahoma.