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Danny Rocco leaving as Spiders football coach

Richmond Spiders head coach Danny Rocco (L) argues a call with side judge Michael Traina (C) and back judge Dale Shaw (R) against the Virginia Cavaliers at Scott Stadium on September 1, 2012 in Charlottesville, Virginia. (Photo by Geoff Burke/Getty Images)

RICHMOND, Va. — After two weeks of speculation about his future, University of Richmond athletic officials confirmed head football coach Danny Rocco would leave the Spider program after five seasons. He will become the new head coach at CAA rival Delaware.

Richmond athletic director Keith Gill confirmed that he had been contacted by Delaware A.D. Chrissi Rawak.

Rocco went 43-22 in his five seasons at U of R, taking a program that was winless in conference play the season before he arrived, and that had three coaches in three seasons prior.

Under Rocco, the Spiders never had a losing season, and made three straight trips to the FCS playoffs, something only done once before in program history.

Before Richmond, Rocco coached at Liberty Universitare y for six seasons, finishing first in conference four times.

In his 11 seasons as a collegiate head coach, Rocco has gone 90-42 without a single losing season.

Rocco publicly questioned the UR administration’s vision and direction for the football program two weeks ago, and had multiple meetings with university president Dr. Ronald Crutcher.

The Blue Hens currently play in the CAA, but have a much larger student population, are a state institution instead of a private university, and many believe they are building up their facilities to make a move to become an FBS program.

Some might consider a move from Richmond to Delaware as lateral and something of an indictment on the program at Richmond. Gill responded to that earlier on Tuesday.

“Coach Rocco made a decision to leaave. That is it” Gill said Tuesday afternoon. “It doesn’t reflect on our commitment. It doesn’t reflect on who we are as a program. I think the numbers speak for themselves in terms of our success.”

Gill pointed out that the Spiders have made the FCS playoffs nine times since 2000 and have won a national championship while playing in the toughest conference at the FCS level. Gill also dismissed any idea that the Spiders would have thoughts of moving up to the FBS division themselves.

“We feel very comfortable with who we are” Gill said. “The University of Richmond is a special place. People understand our football tradition. We feel we’re very well positioned to get a top flight coach.”

The Chattanooga Times Free Press reported Tuesday afternoon that Richmond had already offered the position to UT-Chattanooga head coach Russ Huesman, a former defensive coordinator at Richmond and William and Mary. His last season with the Spiders was in 2008 when they won their national championship. Huesman has gone 59-37 in the last 8 seasons at his alma mater.