Mississippi State University’s Sylvester Croom announced Saturday his immediate resignation as the school’s head football coach.
“Five years ago, Mississippi State gave me the unprecedented opportunity to be a head football coach in the Southeastern Conference and to build a program based upon a strong foundation,” Croom said. “I want to thank (then-president) Dr. Charles Lee and (then-athletic director) Larry Templeton for that opportunity. I also want to thank the assistant coaches and all the players who had faith and trust in me. We have tried to build a program the right way that can compete for conference championships. I believe the foundation has been set for those goals to be reached under the leadership of someone else, and it was my decision to resign.”
Croom concluded his fifth season as Mississippi State’s head coach in 2008 with a 21-38 overall record. He inherited a program coming off three straight losing seasons, one that was on probation for NCAA recruiting violations. Following losing seasons in his first three years as head coach at State, Croom guided the Bulldogs to eight wins in ’07, including a victory over Central Florida in the Liberty Bowl. This past season, however, the Bulldogs finished the year 4-8, the school’s fourth losing season under Croom.
“As we have said was our intention throughout this year, Coach Croom and I met following yesterday’s season-ending game with Ole Miss to discuss the football program,” Director of Athletics Greg Byrne said. “We discussed the football program and many topics were addressed, including resignation. I want to thank Coach Croom for the leadership he has provided our football program over the last five years.”
Mississippi State will begin its search for a new head football coach immediately. All current assistant football coaches remain under contract and will continue performing their duties until the new head coach is hired.
“I have great respect for Coach Croom and his decision,” incoming MSU President Mark Keenum said. “He took over our football program during a difficult time and accepted the challenge head-on. From that first day until today, he performed his duties with great class and the highest integrity that is reflective of the character of this fine man. I join the entire Mississippi State family in thanking Coach Croom for his service to our university and wishing him the best in his future endeavors.
“Looking forward,” Keenum continued, “I plan to work closely with Athletic Director Greg Byrne to move quickly, but with due deliberation, to find a new head football coach with high energy and a commitment to compete for championships and bowl opportunities in the best conference in America.”
“Coach Croom instilled in our football program a level of academic commitment, good sportsmanship, and good citizenship that represents our institution well,” Interim President Dr. Roy H. Ruby said. “The Mississippi State family wishes only the best for Coach Croom and his family.”