Editor’s Note: This is the fourth in a series of the top 10 local news stories from 2017, as chosen by the Commercial staff.
The University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff in November parted ways with 10-year Head Coach Monte Coleman, announcing that they would not renew his contract.
Coleman’s firing is the number seven story in The Commercial’s Top 10 for 2017.
“I thank Coach Coleman and his staff for the hard work they put forth over the years in trying to build a formidable football program at UAPB,” Athletic Director Lonzo Hardy Jr. said when he announced the move. “We wish him all the best as he looks at the next chapter in his career. As for UAPB, it was simply time for us to make a change and start the process of returning Golden Lion football to prominence.”
Coleman’s tenure at UAPB was the longest since Lee Hardman coached from 1993 to 2004, and the next head coach with be the 19th in the school’s history. Under Coleman, the Golden Lions went 40 and 70, which included winning the first-ever Southwestern Athletic Conference Championship in 20112 with a 10-2 record. His only other winning season was 6-5 in 2011.
After that, though, the team recorded losing seasons in 2013 2-9, 2014 4-7, 2015 2-9, 2016 1-10 and this past season 2-9.
Coleman was named head coach in 2007 immediately after the firing of Mo Forte. Prior to that, he served as UAPB’s Linebacker coach in 2003 and was named Defensive Coordinator in 2006.
A Pine Bluff native, Coleman played at the University of Central Arkansas then played professionally as a linebacker for the Washington Redskins, winning three Super Bowl rings.
After Coleman was fired, UAPB announced they were putting together a search committee to find the next head football coach. That committee came up with three names, Henderson State University Head Football Coach Scott Maxfield, Cedric Thomas, the defensive coordinator/defensive backs coach at Alcorn State University and Eric Dooley, offensive coordinator and wide receivers coach at Grambling State University.
Maxfield subsequently withdrew his name from consideration and signed a contract extension at Henderson. Dooley has since accepted the head coaching position at his alma mater, Southern University. UAPB is expected to make an announcement Wednesday regarding the head coaching position.