KENT, Ohio - The departure of Kent State University’s head football coach Darrell Hazell prompted mixed reaction from students and staff on campus.
“It’s terrible that he’s leaving and going to another school,” said sophomore Elisa Jernigan. Jernigan and her friends attended most of the school’s football games this year.
“I’m just mad,” she said.
Hazell announced Wednesday that he will leave Kent State after two seasons to be the head coach at Purdue University.
“I just can’t believe he left after such a good season,” said sophomore Osmel Morales, who also attended games.
Hazell led the football team to one of its best seasons in school history. The former Ohio State assistant coach has a 16-9 record, including 11-2 this season and 15-3 over his final 18 games.
Students say Hazell’s success on the field helped to transform the school’s sports culture.
“It definitely got people turning heads, saying we can really do something with our players,” said sophomore Brianna Scarmack.
“It was great to get that spirit going around at Kent,” said sophomore Katerina Fantozzi.
Hazell will reportedly receive a massive salary increase. Purdue’s offer is a reported $2 million guaranteed per year for five years. At Kent State, Hazell’s base salary was $300,000.
“It was heartbreaking, but it’s good for him because it’s a good job,” said freshman Austin Whitlatch, who’s walking onto Kent’s football team next semester. Whitlatch is hopeful that the quality of players will help keep the team on a winning streak next year.
“Coaches come and coaches go,” said Kent groundskeeper Clarence Freeman. Freeman, who’s worked at Kent State for 24 years, was one of a handful of people on campus who wasn’t surprised by the news.
“I’ve seen the program down for a lot of years and for him to come in and do what he did, it was an amazing run,” added Freeman. “The program will keep on moving up.”
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