SEATTLE -- Washington coach Keith Gilbertson will step down at the end of the season, ending a difficult two years as Rick Neuheisel's replacement.
"Coach Gilbertson and I have talked for several weeks about the football program and we mutually agreed that it needs an immediate boost," Washington
athletic director Todd Turner said in a statement Monday. "Keith will finish this season as our head coach and has agreed to assist me beyond that
time to develop a strategy for reinvestment by our university in its football program."
An afternoon news conference was scheduled.
The Huskies lost 31-6 at Oregon on Saturday, dropping to 1-7 overall and 0-5 in the Pac-10. It's the worst season in 35 years for a school that shared
the 1991 national title.
The 56-year-old Gilbertson, a Washington native, is 7-13 in his second season as the Huskies' coach.
"I want to see this program succeed and get rolling again. Whatever I can do to help, I'll do," he said. "Sure I wish we had been more successful and
won more games. But there was never a day I didn't enjoy coaching over the past two years.
Turner said the search for Gilbertson's successor would begin immediately.
Gilbertson took over the Huskies six weeks before the start of fall camp in 2003 under tough circumstances.
Neuheisel was fired in July 2003 for gambling on NCAA basketball, leaving then-athletic director Barbara Hedges little time or options for filling the
Hedges said at the time that Gilbertson was chosen because he was the only member of the staff with head coaching experience.
Gilbertson previously coached Idaho (1986-88) and California (1992-95) and is 55-48 overall in nine seasons as a head coach.
The Huskies went 6-6 last season and 4-4 in the Pac-10, barely avoiding the school's first losing season since 1976. Washington lost at home to Nevada
and was blown out by California and UCLA.
The only win this season was over San Jose State, and Washington is winless in the Pac-10. The last time the Huskies went without a league victory was
1973, when they were 0-7 in the old Pac-8.
This year's squad was hit hard by injuries, and the team's struggles on offense have been frustrating for Gilbertson, the offensive coordinator under
Neuheisel and, previously, coach Don James on Washington's 1991 title team.
"Keith came into a difficult situation and worked hard to turn the program around, but obviously things went in a different direction," university
president Mark Emmert said. "His relationship to this institution goes back many years and includes the glory days of Washington football. We are
grateful for his years of service."
Only four years ago, the Huskies were 11-1 and beat Purdue in the Rose Bowl.
Washington plays Saturday against visiting Arizona. The Huskies face No. 4 California in Seattle on Nov. 13, then finish the season Nov. 20 at rival