FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Greg Schiano is stepping down from his position on the New England Patriots' coaching staff, citing a "need to spend more time on my faith and family."
Schiano, whose hire had never been officially announced by the club, announced his decision Thursday in a joint statement with coach Bill Belichick.
"This is not the result of any one event, but rather a realization that I need to spend more time on my faith and family," Schiano said. "I don't want to look back years from now and wish I had done things differently. Therefore, I am taking time away from the game to recalibrate my priorities."
Schiano was hired by the Patriots less than two months ago, although the team never specified what his role would be. It was widely assumed he would play a lead role on defense as the club replaced playcaller Brian Flores, who was hired as Miami Dolphins coach after the season.
"I respect Coach Schiano greatly and appreciate his contributions to our staff and team," Belichick said in his statement. "He is a friend who we support completely."
It is a stunning turn of events, as Belichick had raved about Schiano in an interview with Duke basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski that aired Thursday on the "Basketball and Beyond with Coach K" show on SiriusXM.
"He's a very experienced and outstanding fundamental coach," Belichick said in the interview, which was recorded at some point before Sunday. "He's a good teacher and has a lot of experience in both the college and pro game. ... I think he'll be a great addition."
Schiano is a longtime friend of Belichick's and coached Belichick's son Steve at Rutgers for one season. He also coached current Patriots defensive backs Devin McCourty, Jason McCourty and Duron Harmon.
The 52-year-old Schiano was on the cusp of being named University of Tennessee coach in 2017, but the school reversed course after public outcry among Tennessee fans, with some citing his connection to the Jerry Sandusky era at Penn State. Belichick had offered his public support for Schiano.
Schiano's departure comes one day after former Patriots linebacker Jerod Mayo (2008-15) announced that he was joining the team's coaching staff.
The resignation, coupled with having an experienced offensive coordinator in Josh McDaniels, could lead Belichick to take on more defensive coordinator-type responsibilities in 2019.
The Patriots have seen five coaches depart their staff after Super Bowl LIII.