Barry Switzer resigned as the University of Oklahoma's football coach Monday, saying that he was frustrated by National Collegiate Athletic Assn. rules that do not "recognize the financial needs of young athletes."
Switzer, 52, the fourth-most successful coach in college football history, had been under pressure since the school's football program was put on NCAA probation in December. Then, early this year, several Oklahoma players were charged with crimes involving drugs, guns and sexual assault.
"I will never coach at another institution," he said. "I will never coach at the college level, I promise you that.
"It's no fun anymore. I'm drained. I don't have the energy level to compete in this arena today."
He said that the resignation was effective immediately and that he would accept a special assignment with the Oklahoma athletic department.
"I finally decided the time has come for new leadership," Switzer said.
When the Sooners were put on three years' probation, Switzer was identified in four of the 20 violations. He denied knowledge of breaking any NCAA rules and was not penalized by the university.
Switzer said he wanted to be a spokesman for changing NCAA rules that he said did not allow coaches to treat athletes humanely.
"I am not making excuses but simply giving an explanation when I say it was difficult to turn my back on these young men when they needed help," he said. "We have created a system that does not permit me or the program to buy a pair of shoes or a decent coat for a player whose family can't afford these basic necessities.
"How can any coach stick to these rules when a young man's father dies many miles away and the son has no money for a plane ticket home to the funeral?"
Said Nebraska Coach Tom Osborne, Switzer's primary rival in the Big Eight Conference: "I was sorry to hear that Barry has decided to resign. We have been friends and competitors for a long time and we have shared some great moments in college football."
Switzer, however, was under fire even before the action by the NCAA.
In August, a book by former Sooner linebacker Brian Bosworth, now of the Seattle Seahawks, said that players had used cocaine and fired guns at the football players' dormitory. Bosworth, who left the team after the 1986 season, also referred to NCAA violations and said the Oklahoma football program bordered on anarchy.
At the time, Switzer called Bosworth's claims sensationalism.
But the state's largest newspapers called for Switzer's resignation after five of his players were charged with felonies earlier this year.
One player was charged with wounding another player in a dormitory shooting incident. Three players were charged with first-degree rape in an alleged dormitory assault on an Oklahoma City woman. Another player pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute cocaine after he had been accused of selling cocaine to an undercover FBI agent.
The criminal allegations on the heels of the probation caused a furor, but David Swank, interim school president, expressed confidence that Switzer could restore order to the program.
The school's board of regents deferred action on Switzer's contract earlier this month. Last year, Switzer received a $12,500 bonus and a $5,000 raise.
Switzer had given no hint of his plan to resign after Oklahoma completed spring practice in April. At that time, he talked about next season and previously had said that the Sooners would come back from the NCAA sanctions with a successful 1989 season.
Switzer said Monday that he was resigning with great sadness. He said no one had asked him to resign.
"It is my decision. I thought what is best for the program is what I am doing today.
"I leave with pride in our football program . . . but my greatest pride is in the young men who have come through this program who have worked so hard."
Calling Switzer "a tremendous coach," Nebraska Athletic Director Bob Devaney, a former Nebraska coach, said: "I'm going to feel bad if I find out that this wasn't Barry's idea . . . that he was pressured to resign. I just hope he's doing this because he has better things to do."
A source close to the Oklahoma football program said that a leading candidate to replace Switzer was defensive coordinator Gary Gibbs and that a replacement could be selected as early as today.
Gibbs, who has been at Oklahoma since 1975 and the Sooners' defensive coordinator since 1981, reportedly was interviewed last winter about a coaching job with the Raiders. Raider Coach Mike Shanahan is a former Oklahoma assistant.
Switzer has had the top winning percentage among major college football coaches since 1982 and he has the fourth-highest winning percentage of all time (157 victories, 29 losses and four ties--.844). His teams won three national championships and 12 Big Eight Conference titles in his 16 seasons.
Switzer's first team in 1973 went undefeated, and the Sooners won national championships in 1974 and 1975 and posted a 37-game undefeated streak from mid-1972 to mid-1975. His 1984 team also won a national championship.
A native of Crossett, Ark., he played football at the University of Arkansas and served as an assistant there before going to Oklahoma in 1966 as offensive line coach for then-coach Jim McKenzie.
After McKenzie's death in 1967, Switzer was made offensive coordinator by Coach Chuck Fairbanks. Switzer became head coach in 1973.
Former Missouri coach Warren Powers and Osborne were the only Big Eight coaches who beat Switzer more than once.
"Everybody always talks about what a great recruiter he was, and what great talent he had at Oklahoma," said Powers, now in business in St. Louis. "And of course he did have great talent.
"But let me tell you, his players were as well coached as anybody in the country. . . . They knew exactly what they were doing, and they did things right. It wasn't just because he had great players. I've seen coaches who had equal talent who didn't win as much as Barry.
"It said a lot about his coaching ability and his ability to organize a staff. It was amazing what he did at Oklahoma."
BARRY SWITZER'S CAREER RECORD
The career coaching record of Barry Switzer, who announced his resignation Monday as head football coach at the University of Oklahoma:
Year W-L-T AP Ranking 1973 10-0-1 3 1974 11-0-0 1 1975 11-1-0 1 1976 9-2-1 5 1977 10-2-0 7 1978 11-1-0 3 1979 11-1-0 3 1980 10-2-0 3 1981 7-4-1 20 1982 8-4-0 16 1983 8-4-0 -- 1984 9-2-1 6 1985 11-1-0 1 1986 11-1-0 3 1987 11-1-0 3 1988 9-3-0 10 Totals 157-29-4 --
Year Bowl--Score 1975 Orange--Oklahoma 14, Michigan 6 1976 Fiesta--Oklahoma 41, Wyoming 7 1977 Orange--Arkansas 31, Oklahoma 6 1978 Orange--Oklahoma 31, Nebraska 24 1979 Orange--Oklahoma 24, Florida State 7 1980 Orange--Oklahoma 18, Florida State 17 1981 Sun--Oklahoma 40, Houston 14 1982 Fiesta--Arizona State 32, Oklahoma 21 1984 Orange--Washington 28, Oklahoma 17 1985 Orange--Oklahoma 25, Penn State 10 1986 Orange--Oklahoma 42, Arkansas 8 1987 Orange--Miami 20, Oklahoma 14 1988 Citrus--Clemson 13, Oklahoma 6