The University Record, May 8, 1995

Moeller resigns; Carr will be interim head coach

By Jane R. Elgass

Head football coach Gary Moeller resigned last Thursday amidst a storm of media coverage following an April 28 incident at a Southfield restaurant that resulted in his arrest on charges of assault and battery and disorderly conduct.

Athletic Director Joe Roberson announced the resignation "with the deepest sense of regret" at a mid-afternoon press conference.

Moeller has asked for a leave of absence and Roberson noted that "he remains a part of the Michigan family."

Roberson said Moeller likely will take a vacation to "sort out some family and legal issues," and the terms of the leave will be discussed when he returns. There is no chance Moeller will return as coach, but Roberson said he might return in some other capacity.

Lloyd Carr has been appointed acting head coach while the University conducts what Roberson called a thorough but rapid search for a permanent coach. Carr is not a candidate for the position. He said at the press conference that he "would not be head coach other than on an interim basis."

In a prepared statement, Roberson said: "All of us in the Michigan family regret the event of last Friday. During this time we all want to be supportive of Gary and his family. Our thoughts continue to be with them, first and foremost.

"At the University of Michigan we have a tradition of excellence in academics and athletics that stretches back for well over a century. Nothing that has happened in the past week in any way lessens the debt of gratitude we owe for his years of service to the University, the Athletic Department and the football program," Roberson said.

In a statement read by Roberson, Moeller said that during his 24 years with the football program he committed himself "to the integrity of the program and the welfare of the student athletes. My immediate concern is for the well-being of a very dedicated football staff and my outstanding team of players.

"I consider myself a dedicated, solid football coach with the ability to coach and lead young men. I'm proud of my career and what I have accomplished at Michigan."

Moeller said his conduct "is in no way indicative of an alcohol problem" and does not reflect any family difficulties.

"I have left my job as head football coach, but I still have my family and dignity. I have already said that I deeply regret what happened, and it is a source of deep personal embarrassment. ... I do not want to comment further; rather I want to look ahead."

When questioned about the University's image in light of the incident and resignation, Roberson said, "Sure. It affects the image, but it's not tarnished to the point of no return."

He said the football program has been given "a reason to refocus and think carefully about" expectations and values for coaches and student athletes.

An obviously anguished Carr said "today is one of the saddest days of my life. A great person I admire and love is no longer here. It's my duty to lead this program, and I will do that to the best of my ability."

Carr said the program "is wounded and we have great pain, but we don't want your tears, we don't want your sorrow.

"We have a program of kids who have great character, great courage, a great will to win, and Michigan will be back."

Carr told reporters that Moeller met with the football staff Thursday morning, and "I can't tell you what a terrible experience it was, to see this proud man... He's strong. He's wounded. He'll bleed a while, and then he'll rise and fight again."

Football players voice respect for Moeller

Four football players were at the press conference and fielded questions from reporters. All four likened Moeller to a father-figure with an important place in their lives.

Steve Morrison, a linebacker, was recruited by Moeller and has spent five years playing for him. "Not having him around as coach will be hard."

Trent Zenkewicz, a defensive tackle who also was recruited by Moeller, said he has "tremendous respect" for him, adding "I consider him part of my family." He also said that next season "a part of him will go out on the field with me."

The restaurant incident and resignation were a "big shock" to Thomas Guines, an offensive tackle and guard, who said there "is a big void for somebody to fill. What's most important, though, is we'll stay together as a team."

Tyrone Wheatley, who would have counseled Moeller not to resign, said he "wasn't just a coach. He would resolve things the best way for the players. He looks out for the individuals."