SMU football program looking for new coach

Saint Mary’s lets Steve Sumarah go after 12 years with the football program.

Sumahara and his Huskies failed to advance to the national semifinals this season. (Photo: courtesy Nick Pearce, Dalhousie)

Saint Mary’s University has decided not to extend the contract of football head coach Steve Sumarah who led the Huskies to four Atlantic University Sport championships in six years.

Sumarah was told Monday afternoon that his contract, which expires on March 1, 2012, would not be renewed for next season. He had been head coach since 2006 after joining Saint Mary’s as an assistant coach in 1998.

“We’re just going to change things up with the football program a little bit,” says Steve Sarty, director of athletics and recreation at Saint Mary’s. “It’s not one specific thing with regard to what’s taken place. It’s just a matter of needing a change to move forward with the program.”

What have you done for me lately?

Sumarah compiled an impressive regular season record of 35-12 and an overall record of 42-18 as head coach. He captured three AUS coach of the year awards and one Frank Tindall Trophy, awarded to the Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) coach of the year.

He coached Saint Mary’s to four straight Atlantic division championships from 2007 to 2010, highlighted by an appearance in the national championship game, the Vanier Cup, in 2007.

However, the Huskies fell to the Acadia Axemen in this year’s AUS final after a 6-2 regular season, failing to advance to the national semifinals for the first time since Sumarah took over as head coach.

“He’s done a fine job, and his record obviously shows that,” Sarty says.

“Most people measure [success] by wins and losses. However, that’s the easy way to measure it, not the only way to measure it. There’s certainly a standard of excellence that we pride ourself on,” he says. “Coach Sumarah has made significant contributions to that, absolutely  but it was determined a change was necessary moving forward.”

The decision not to bring Sumarah back was made internally on Friday. Sumarah, who had been recruiting in B.C. during Vanier Cup week in late November with the expectation of returning, was notified of the university’s decision on Monday afternoon .

Moving forward

As for hiring a replacement, Sarty says a job opening will be posted late this week or early next week for the vacant position. The university will be accepting resumes for potential candidates and is currently putting together a committee that will evaluate the applications before they begin the interview process. They would like to hire a replacement as soon as possible, though they won’t rush into anything, says Sarty.

Sumarah told Metro that he will address the media later this week. Saint Mary’s players did not immediately reply to requests for interview.