By BOB REDD
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
BLUEFIELD, Va. —
The search is on for a new head football coach at Bluefield College. Mike Gravier, the coach who resurrected the program after seven decades of dormancy, was fired Friday.
In a statement issued by the school, it was stated “the college simply decided to go in a different direction with the leadership of its football program.”
The statement went on to state that “anything beyond that regarding Coach Gravier’s departure is considered a personnel matter and confidential between the coach and the college.”
The Gravier-led Rams just concluded spring drills on Wednesday and Daily Telegraph Sports Editor Brian Woodson met with the coach on Thursday for an interview with a yet-to-be-published story on the spring practice sessions.
Bluefield College played its first varsity action since 1941 last season as a member of the Mid-South Conference. While the team was winless, Gravier expressed confidence that the team would show improvement this coming season, in part to playing a non-conference schedule against opponents more similar to the Rams.
Calls to athletic director Peter Dryer and Gravier were not returned Friday. The statement issued by Bluefield College follows in its entirety:
“Bluefield College head football coach Mike Gravier’s tenure has ended with the school.
“After being named the team’s first head coach since 1941 and leading the revival of the program after a 70-year hiatus, Coach Gravier’s time at BC has come to a close after three years with the Rams.
“The longtime football coach who began his coaching career at the high school level in the early 1980s before becoming an assistant college coach in 1987 and a head college coach in 1995 joined the Bluefield College family in the summer of 2010 when the school announced it would be reviving its football program.
“After spending a year spearheading that process, hiring the first assistant coaches and recruiting the first BC players since 1941, Coach Gravier led the Rams in an exhibition season in the fall of 2011 before beginning intercollegiate play as a member of the Mid-South Conference of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA-DI) in the fall of 2012.
“During his three years with the college, Coach Gravier recruited nearly 100 student-athletes in the process of fielding the school’s first team in more than 70 years. He also involved those young men in numerous community service projects when not on the gridiron, including a Sack the Quarterback program with Food City and the Hunger Challenge with Heaven Sent Ministries to feed the hungry at home and abroad.
“ ‘We appreciate Coach Gravier’s work over the last few years, and wish him the best in his future endeavors,’ said BC athletics director Peter Dryer.
“As the college looks toward a new direction, assistant coaches Will King, Joe Perri, Mike Scott and T.J. Lynch will share the duties typically set aside for the head coach until an interim or permanent replacement for Coach Gravier is named.
“ ‘We have a staff of assistant coaches that are taking responsibility to continue the work of the program,’ said Dryer, ‘and we are very confident about finishing out recruitment for the coming year. Our assistant coaches each have a wealth of experience in college football and will continue to move the program in a positive direction.’
‘Dryer said the school will begin an extensive search for a new head football coach immediately.
“ As always,’ he said, ‘we are looking for someone with a strong commitment to the Christian mission of the college, an ability to recruit and retain qualified student-athletes, appropriate experience in leading and managing a competitive football team, and a commitment to making a positive impact on the lives of the student-athletes at Bluefield College.’ ”