ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — Ken Niumatalolo set the bar high for what a military academy could still accomplish in major college football.
The past three seasons at Navy weren’t up to that standard.
Niumatalolo is out after 15 seasons at the helm. The academy announced Sunday that he would not return — a day after the Midshipmen lost to Army in double overtime and finished 4-8 for the second straight year. Niumatalolo is the winningest coach in school history at 109-83, but after going 11-2 in 2019, Navy hasn’t finished above .500 since.
“Our sincerest gratitude to Coach Ken for what has been a distinguished and impactful legacy at the Naval Academy,” athletic director Chet Gladchuk said in a statement. “Navy football flourished for many years under his leadership. He will forever be remembered for the influence he has had on the lives of those who played for him.”
Defensive coordinator Brian Newberry was named interim coach. Gladchuk is expected to speak to reporters Monday.
Niumatalolo was hired by Navy before the 2008 season. In the Midshipmen’s first two years in the American Athletic Conference, Niumatalolo led the team to a share of an AAC West Division title in 2015 and won the AAC West title outright in 2016. Navy also shared the West title in 2019.
The Midshipmen have gone just 11-23 over the last three seasons and have had one winning season over the last five years. Navy is a combined 4-10 against the other two service academies over the last seven years.
“The Naval Academy will now move forward with continued high ambitions and embrace a new era of reaffirmed expectations for Navy football and our midshipmen,” Gladchuk said.
Navy played in 10 bowl games under Niumatalolo. He’s the only coach in the Army-Navy rivalry to begin his career with eight straight wins in the series. He also is the only coach in Navy history to win four consecutive bowl games, and he tied a program record by beating Notre Dame three times in his tenure.
Navy was an Independent for 134 years before joining the AAC, and the Midshipmen have gone 36-26 in conference play.
Navy began this season with a loss to FCS Delaware. The Midshipmen notched a big win at Central Florida on Nov. 19, but lost to Army despite allowing only 153 yards of offense.
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