Florida International coach resigns

Don Strock has resigned as coach at Florida International, one of only two winless Division I-A programs this season and a program still dealing with effects of a sideline-clearing brawl against Miami last month.

Strock submitted his resignation Wednesday, university officials said. He will coach the Golden Panthers' final three games of the season.

"Now is a good time to move on to other challenges," Strock said. "I wish FIU every success."

Reached Wednesday evening, Strock would not say if the brawl that marred Florida International's game against Miami Oct. 14 was a major factor in his decision to step aside. He would only say that he would reveal the reasons behind the decision before FIU's practice Thursday afternoon.

"I'm doing everything then," Strock told The Associated Press.

A total of 31 players -- 18 from FIU, 13 from Miami -- were sanctioned for their role in the fight, which took place in the third quarter of the Hurricanes' 35-0 victory. The Golden Panthers suspended 16 players indefinitely and kicked two others off the team but allowed them to keep their scholarships.

FIU reinstated three of the suspended players last week before the team's 35-0 loss to Louisiana-Monroe. More players could return by season's end, university officials said.

Strock is the only head coach in FIU's brief football history. He was hired as director of football operations in 1999 and then was named coach Sept. 13, 2000.

Pete Garcia, who was hired from Miami as FIU's athletic director last month, said the university was appreciative for Strock's role in starting the program and helping it reach Division I-A status.

"The role of the founding coach of a university football program is extremely challenging and requires very hard work and dedication," Garcia said in a statement released by the school. "We are grateful to Coach Strock for laying the foundation for our program."

FIU was 5-6 in 2002, its first season under Strock. It went 5-6 again last season -- sparking hope that this season could be a breakthrough for the program. But the Golden Panthers are 0-9; only Duke, at 0-10, has a worse record among Division I-A teams this season.

"The last six years were a great experience for me and I am grateful to FIU for the opportunity," Strock said. "I am proud of the successes we have had."

FIU hosts Louisiana-Lafayette on Saturday, plays Florida Atlantic on Nov. 25 in Miami at Dolphin Stadium and then ends the season at home Dec. 2 against Troy.