Donald Pittman was one game short of leading the Fort Valley State Wildcats football team to the SIAC championship game in 2015.
But the Wildcats will have someone else leading their program in 2016 as the school announced Monday that Pittman had been fired. Assistant coach Keithen DeGrate will serve as the interim head coach for the Wildcats as the school searches for Pittman’s replacement.
“On behalf of the university’s athletics program, I’d like to thank Coach Pittman for his service to our football program over the past seven years,” FVSU athletics director Joshua Murfree said in the release. “However, after careful consideration, I believe this decision is in the best interest of our student athletes, the athletics department and the institution. We wish Donald Pittman well in his future endeavors.”
Pittman arrived at FVSU in December 2008 after serving as the offensive coordinator at rival Albany State. His finished his stint with a 40-33 record, and his final game with the Wildcats came in a loss to Albany State in December.
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In 2012, the Wildcats won the SIAC Eastern Division title, played for the 2012 conference championship and appeared in the NCAA Division II playoffs.
Pittman is the fourth straight FVSU football head coach with a winning record to be fired or forced out.
His predecessor, Deondri Clark, was forced out — he ostensibly resigned and asked to be reassigned “to teaching and staff responsibilities” — in November of 2008 with an 18-15 record in three seasons.
He took over in the summer of 2006 when John Morgan was abruptly fired in May of 2006 with a 22-11 record. Clark was also the interim athletics director for more than two years before giving up that job before what turned out to be his final season.
Morgan, who battled a protest of some fans and alumni about five months before he was fired, took over for Kent Schoolfield, whose 48-21 record in six seasons included an SIAC title and three NCAA Division II playoff trips yet was marked by regular controversy.
He was fired after the 2002 season for what then-athletics director Gwendolyn Reeves termed “personnel matters,” after which it was learned amounted to insubordination and perceived discourteous behavior.
DeGrate coached with Pittman at Albany State and was Pittman’s first hire upon taking the FVSU job in December of 2008.
The Telegraph’s Michael A. Lough contributed to this report.