Steve Cheatham has resigned as head football coach at East Central Community College in Decatur, announced ECCC President Dr. Phil A. Sutphin. Cheatham’s resignation is effective July 31, 2009.
Cheatham, who took over the Warrior program following the 2007 campaign, underwent surgery for prostate cancer on June 22. He cited health concerns as a reason for his resignation.
“I just don’t think I can give East Central and the young men what they need going into the upcoming season,” said the 52-year-old Philadelphia native when announcing his resignation in a Tuesday afternoon meeting with Dr. Sutphin and Athletic Director Chris Harris. “Although the surgery was termed successful, there’s still a six-week period where I’m limited to what I can do. I just don’t have the strength I need to do the job.”
Cheatham said having cancer also changed his priorities. He wants to spend more time with his family and is looking forward to being a grandfather.
“My daughter Lindsey and her husband (Bo Burkes) are expecting their first child in February. Brenda and I want to be able to spend as much time as possible with our new grandchild,” he stated.
Cheatham, who plans to retire from the state system following 28 years of service, will continue coaching but on a different level. He will serve as a physical education instructor for K-8 grades at Conehatta Elementary School, a division of the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians, beginning in August.
Dr. Sutphin, who reluctantly accepted Cheatham’s resignation, said East Central “will definitely miss Coach Cheatham…he added tremendously to the football program.”
Prior to being named Warrior head football coach, Cheatham served as defensive coordinator for former head coach Terry Underwood during the 2007 campaign. He also served as a Warrior assistant during the 2001-03 seasons.
A 31-year coaching veteran, Cheatham is a former head football coach at Neshoba Central and Philadelphia high schools. He owns a 46-20 record during his six years as a high school head coach. He led East Central to a 4-5 record in the 2008 season, capped off by a stunning 44-38 double-overtime win over the playoff-bound Pearl River Community College Wildcats.
Cheatham’s coaching experience also includes stints as an assistant at Dothan (Ala.) and Neshoba Central high schools, and as a graduate assistant at Clemson University. In addition, Cheatham served two season as director of football operations at the University of Mississippi under Rebel head coach David Cutcliff.
A 1974 graduate of Neshoba Central High School, Cheatham attended East Central from 1974-76 and received a bachelor’s degree in health, physical education and recreation from Mississippi State University in 1978. He earned a master’s degree in secondary guidance and counseling from Clemson University in 1995.
Dr. Sutphin said the search “is underway” for Cheatham’s successor.