Gary Moeller resigned as Michigan football coach Thursday after a drunken incident at a suburban Detroit restaurant last week.
Defensive coordinator Lloyd Carr was appointed interim coach while the search for a successor begins for one of the nation's top football programs.
Moeller's resignation, announced at a news conference by Michigan Athletic Director Joe Roberson, stunned players and staff.
"This is one of the saddest days of my life," Carr said, his voice choking. "A man I respect, have the utmost admiration for, is no longer here. I would not be honest if I say we are not wounded or feel great pain."
Carr said Moeller, 54, met with the assistants earlier in the day to tell them of his decision.
"I can't tell you what a terrible experience it was to see this proud man defeated," said Carr, whose son, Jason, is a reserve quarterback for the Wolverines. "But he's tough. He will rebound."
Moeller was arrested on misdemeanor charges of disorderly conduct and assault and battery after his outburst at a restaurant Friday.
According to Southfield police, Moeller was intoxicated and punched a police officer in the chest. He has not commented since the arrest, and he faces a court appearance May 12.
On a police tape, Moeller begged officers to free him while being examined at a hospital for suspected alcohol poisoning.
"I don't want my kids to see me that way," Moeller said repeatedly on the tape.
Police taped Moeller at Providence Hospital, where he was taken after his arrest.
In the tape, Moeller speaks of his love for his children and for his football players.
"No, I don't want any mercy, I don't want that," he told officers. "I understand why you can't let me go. And I understand. . . . Do you know how embarrassing this is?"
Roberson read a statement from Moeller Thursday: "I consider myself to be a dedicated, solid football coach with an ability to learn, to lead and coach young men. I'm proud of my career and what I accomplished in Michigan. . . . I still have my family and dignity."
Moeller was put on a leave of absence and will continue receiving his $130,000-a-year salary indefinitely.
Roberson said the incident hurt the university's reputation. "It's a devastating kind of a thing," he said. "I'm sure it's part of what Gary considered as he had to make a decision."
Except for a three-year stint as coach at Illinois, Moeller had served on the Michigan staff for 24 years. Moeller was Bo Schembechler's hand-picked successor in 1990.
Under Moeller, the Wolverines won two Big Ten championships outright and tied for another. He compiled a 44-13-3 record at Michigan, going 8-4 the last two years.
Roberson said nobody had been contacted as a replacement.
Reaction to Moeller's resignation was generally that of shock and sadness. He was not known as a drinker and the disturbance was considered out of character.