After four seasons, Stacey Hairston has resigned as the head football coach at Wilmington College.
Hairston, a former player in the National Football League, was 1-39 in his four seasons.
“It was a very tough decision,” WC director of athletics Terry Rupert said. “Stacey’s a very good person, a fine individual. We appreciate all the things he’s done in his four years here. It’s unfortunate that it’s not always shown in the wins and losses. We’ll see where we go from there. Hopefully we can move this situation forward.”
Rupert said Hairston handled his team well aside from wins and losses.
“Making his team accountable, going to class, being quality citizens on campus, being part of a larger (campus) team,” were areas Rupert said Hairston performed well at WC.
“I think Stacey’s done a good job, his work ethic is good,” said Rupert. “Unfortunately, sports is a tough business and people are judged on wins and losses.”
Since Mike Wallace left following the 2003 season, Wilmington College football has struggled mightily. The Fightin’ Quakers are a combined 17-113 over the last 13 seasons.
The team’s struggles in the Ohio Athletic Conference have been worse. Wilmington has lost 39 straight league games, dating back to a 13-12 win over Marietta in 2012.
So, can Wilmington College in its current climate compete in the OAC?
“It’s a tough task,” Rupert admits. “I won’t say we can’t be. When we first started in the conference we were competitive for a while. I think we’d all agree it’s the best football conference in Div. III.
And Rupert said he won’t demand an OAC championship out of his new coach.
” We’re not saying we’re going to leap to No. 1 but we need to be competitive,” he said. “We take baby steps to get to where we want to be. I think we can but I think it’s a much tougher road than many people think. We’ve looked to get into other conferences and we’ll continue to do that. But right now we’re where we are and we’ve got to find a way to be competitive in that.”
Since a 24-16 win over John Carroll in 2008, Wilmington has won just 2 of its last 73 OAC games.
Rupert said Wilmington had just five seniors who were honored on Senior Day this season, noting it’s difficult enough to compete at the OAC level with a veteran team but one that features just five seniors won’t be competitive in the league.
“For us to move the program forward we need to become competitive,” Rupert said. “We need to recruit better students and student-athletes that will retain and stay here for four years and graduates. It’s hard to recruit to quality student-athletes that will stay here four years when you don’t win. Everybody wants to be part of a winner and we need to move toward that. Our retention’s not where we want it to be. We’ve dropped a bit and that’s across campus, that’s not just football.”
Reach Mark Huber at 937-556-5765, or on Twitter @wnjsports