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Tucker joins WVU's football staff

April 21, 2004|by MARK KELLER

keller@herald-mail.com

Donnie Tucker said he planned to be in it for the long haul when he accepted the head football job at Jefferson High School last July.

Then again, it's not every day that your state university comes knocking.

Tucker stepped down after one year as the Cougars' coach to take a position on the West Virginia University football staff, Jefferson Athletic Director John Brown said Tuesday.

"An opportunity like that doesn't come very often," Brown said. "We're definitely sorry to see him go."

Brown said Friday will be Tucker's last day at the school. Tucker's resignation was accepted at Tuesday's Board of Education meeting, board member Cheryl Huff said.

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Tucker could not be reached for comment Tuesday. Shelley Poe, the football contact in the West Virginia sports information office, was also unavailable.

Tucker took the Jefferson job after spending the previous eight years as an assistant at University and Morgantown high schools.

He also served as an assistant at Fairmont State, West Virginia Wesleyan, Salem and Potomac State, where he worked under Berkeley Springs head coach Angelo Luvara.

He was an assistant under West Virginia coach Rich Rodriguez at Salem before the program was discontinued.

Tucker was excited to take over the program at Jefferson, which was his first head coaching position.

"It's a monumental challenge, because Jefferson's been down," Tucker said at his first press conference. "But that's OK, because we can get up. Being in the playoffs, I know what the experience is like. I can only hope to get Jefferson there."

It didn't happen. The Cougars went 2-7 in 2003, then had to forfeit the two victories when it was discovered the team used an academically ineligible player.

With or without the forfeits, the Cougars suffered through their 11th straight losing season, the longest such streak in the area.

Brown said, however, that things were looking up for the program under Tucker.

"His job was to build a program, and that's what he was trying to do," Brown said. "He's a real class guy. I have great respect for him, and I think he had the respect of the kids, too.

Brown said the Cougars' boys basketball and wrestling positions are also open. He hopes to have all three positions filled before June 1.

"We'd like to have it done before school is out so we can have the kids meet the coach before summer," Brown said. "We've got our work cut out."

Staff writer Dave McMillion contributed to this story.

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