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January 08. 2014 9:59PM

UNH football coach McDonnell turns down UMass offer to interview

University of New Hampshire football head coach Sean McDonnell has turned down an offer to interview for a new job, according to the school's director of athletics, Marty Scarano.

Reports circulated on Wednesday that McDonnell was scheduled to meet late this week with University of Massachusetts officials about their vacant head coaching position.

Scarano said on Wednesday night that UMass reached out to McDonnell earlier in the week and invited him to interview for the position. The AD, the coach and UNH president Mark Huddleston had discussions over a couple of days and in the end McDonnell declined the offer to interview, Scarano said.

"As of this morning, Sean informed me that he was not going to pursue the interview with them," Scarano said. "We're obviously delighted."

McDonnell could not be reached for comment on Wednesday night.

Scarano stressed that he was not speaking for the coach.

"It's a great thing for us," Scarano added. "This isn't the first time someone has come calling for Sean and it's an FBS scenario and I'm sure there was some intrigue for him, as there would be for anybody."

The initial report of McDonnell's involvement surfaced in a story in the Massachusetts Daily Collegian, the school newspaper. The paper reported that it had been informed of a McDonnell interview by a source and also that the source said UMass was "very interested" in McDonnell.

UMass made a move up to the Football Bowl Subdivision, the top level of Division I football, two years ago and has struggled mightily since.

The Minutemen are in the Mid-American Conference and finished with 1-11 record each of the last two seasons while playing their games at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, about 90 minutes from campus. They were 1-7 in the MAC each year.

Charley Molnar, who was hired to usher UMass into the FBS, was fired after two seasons on Dec. 26. Numerous reports have said he had three years and a total of $836,000 left on his contract.

McDonnell, 57, is a 1978 graduate of UNH and just wrapped up his 15th season as head coach with one of the school's best seasons ever.

After losing three of their first four games, the Wildcats rallied to a 7-4 record in the regular season. They qualified for the FCS tournament for a 10th straight season, which is the longest streak in the country and won playoff games at home against Lafayette, at Maine and at Southeastern Louisiana to advance to the semifinals for the first time.

UNH lost at North Dakota State, 52-14, in the semis on Dec 20. The Bison went on to beat Towson, 35-7, for their third straight FCS championship last Saturday.

Former UMass head coach Mark Whipple, 56 and the offensive coordinator at UNH for a couple of seasons in the early 1980s, has been reported to be a candidate for the job again. He coached the Minutemen to the FCS national championship in his first year in 1998 and was with the team for six years.

Whipple has spent much of the last decade coaching in the NFL, most recently as the quarterbacks coach of the Cleveland Browns in 2012. He sat out the 2013 season.


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