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Bellotti leaves Oregon for job at ESPN

EUGENE, Ore. -- University of Oregon athletic director Mike Bellotti will resign after less than a year on the job to take a position as a college football analyst with ESPN.

Bellotti, the winningest football coach in UO history, made the announcement Friday morning.

He said he accepted the job Thursday. He will start April 5 but will be available to the UO through April 30.

Bellotti will make his ESPN debut April 17 at 2 p.m. EDT for the Auburn football spring game.

Bellotti said he wants the next athletic director to hire the new basketball coach, and he didn't want anyone to read anything into the timing of his departure.

MORE PRESS CONFERENCE VIDEO: Part Two | Part Three

"This is not the most appropriate timing in my perception just because of the incidents that have occured," he said.

Bellotti said he is not running away from anything.

"I've got great support from the president and the administration and the department here," he said.

"Our young men and women, our coaches are great people," he said. "They care, they do great things."

"The other day I was asked 'are you having a good day?' and I said 'let me think about that for as second. Then I said yes, absoultely."

Bellotti then ticked off recent UO accomplishments:

"As athletic director I take my lead every day from all the things that happen, I have to admit that the university of Oregon deserves somebody that really has a passion about being athletic director." "I like and enjoy college athletics, I love college football."

'An incredible opportunity for Coach Bellotti'

"As difficult as this is for the University of Oregon and for Duck fans everywhere, we recognize that this is an incredible opportunity for Coach Bellotti," UO President Richard Lariviere said.

Lariviere will appoint an interim athletic director in the coming days, with a national search after that.

"I think this is the right decision," he said. "I miss the relationship with the players. I'm not sure I'll have it in this new job, but I'll be able to stay close to college football. It really is exciting from that regard that I get a chance to talk about the game of football every day."

Bellotti will stay with UO through end of April but will be more dealing with problems that come up and helping to mentor interim person and successor.

"I really thought that a lot of this would take place after July," he said. He said ESPN turned the tables on him with a job offer.

"I think because of my background and their desire to give me some practical experience they moved up that timeline," he said about the offer from ESPN. "I'm excited about it, yet at the same time I feel bad about the timing."

Press release from the University of Oregon

University of Oregon President Richard W. Lariviere announced today that UO Athletics Director and former head football coach Mike Bellotti has accepted a position as a college football analyst for ESPN television broadcasts. Bellotti will begin working with the network in April.

"As difficult as this is for the University of Oregon and for Duck fans everywhere, we recognize that this is an incredible opportunity for Coach Bellotti," Lariviere said. "Mike Bellotti will always be an icon at the University of Oregon and we wish him all the best as he embarks on this exciting new career."

Before assuming the role of Athletics Director in July 2009, Bellotti was the Oregon Ducks' winningest football coach of all time with a record of 116 wins and 55 losses during 14 seasons as head coach. Bellotti led the team to a dozen post-season appearances and six bowl wins. Under his leadership, the team earned shares of two Pacific-10 Conference titles, a school-record 11 wins and a No. 2 national ranking in 2001, as well as a Top-25 national finish on six occasions in the past 10 years.

"One of the most difficult decisions in my life was to walk away from being the head football coach at Oregon," Bellotti said. "Coaching here for 20 years was a wonderful experience that enriched my life. The players, coaches, staff and fans are simply the best. The relationships that we have built and the memories we share will endure forever.

"The second most difficult decision has come today, to leave the university. This past football season as Athletics Director, I had the opportunity to work in the broadcast booth for the Oregon Sports Network. It allowed me to stay connected to the game in a new way. ESPN recently offered me a position, which I accepted yesterday, as a college football analyst. It is a tremendous, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I like college athletics, but I love college football," Bellotti continued.

"I appreciate the understanding and support of President Lariviere, the university and the Athletics Department. I will always be supportive of the University of Oregon and in the off-season I hope I can still be involved with UO functions," Bellotti concluded.
Bellotti will continue to oversee the day-to-day operations for the UO Athletics Department until he begins work with ESPN in April. Lariviere said he plans to appoint an interim director for the University of Oregon Athletics Department in the coming days. "This will help ensure a smooth transition for the coaches, staff and players in the department," he said.

Lariviere said he will conduct a national search to select the University of Oregon's next athletics director. "I plan to consult widely with coaches, faculty, staff, Pac-10 Commissioner Larry Scott and others to help us find the best person to serve as the UO's 12th director of intercollegiate athletics. The University of Oregon has one of the finest athletics programs in the nation and I know that this position will attract outstanding candidates," Lariviere said.

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