Mike Bellotti has resigned effective April 5th as the Oregon Athletic Director, continuing what has been the most tumultuous offseasons for the Ducks in recent memory. He will be joining ESPN as a college football analyst, and his debut for ESPN on April 17th at the Auburn spring game.
Bellotti was the winningest coach in school history, with a 116-55 record, and stepped down as football coach at one of the most promising times in school history. During his press conference, stepping down from the head coach of the football team was the hardest decision he ever made.
It had been rumored for some time that Bellotti had not been entirely happy as the Athletic Director, and there were many rumors that he would eventually move on to commentating, after his stellar work for OSN during the 2009 season. This move will allow him to get back to what he loves: college football. While he could have continued in his capacity as Athletic Department for some time, his heart was with college football, and you can't blame him for that.
While it's sad to see Bellotti go, if his heart wasn't totally in the AD job (Ivan Maisel has a good take on that topic), then it's likely best that he moves on. However, he did a solid job taking over from Pat Kilkenny, and pushing the program forward in the past year in a time of economic uncertainty. His most important act as Athletic Director will be the firing of Ernie Kent, a move that wasn't easy to make, but was unfortunately necessary.
While this is obviously not ideal timing, the University will be fine moving forward. They are bringing in a outside firm to conduct the coaching search, and it is the same firm that conducted the search for Pac-10 commissioner when Larry Scott was hired.
Good luck to Mike with ESPN. His contributions to the University will not be forgotten. This is an excellent opportunity for him, and I look forward to hearing his commentary reach a much wider audience.