© 2023 Connecticut Public

FCC Public Inspection Files:
WPKT · WRLI-FM · WEDW-FM · Public Files Contact
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

With 3 games left to play in the season, UMass football fires its head coach

UMass football coach Walt Bell was fired last weekend, shortly after the Minutemen lost to University of Rhode Island.
UMass football coach Walt Bell was fired last weekend, shortly after the Minutemen lost to University of Rhode Island.

UMass football has started a search for a new head coach after firing Walt Bell over the weekend.

The decision was announced shortly after UMass lost to Rhode Island during a homecoming weekend game in Amherst, Massachusetts.

UMass Athletic Director Ryan Bamford said he gives Bell a lot of credit for bringing the Minutemen along since he was first hired in December 2018. But he said by this time, under Bell’s leadership, the team should have made marked progress.

“As much as I appreciate and feel like Walt did a number of things that we asked him to do,” Bamford said, “we've got to develop, and we've got to be competitive, and we've got to win games.”

The last time UMass football had a winning season was 2010. That was two years before the school moved up to Division I Football Bowl Subdivision, the highest rung in NCAA football.

Bell was under a contract that was to end in December 2023. His annual salary was almost $620,000. Now a two-year payoff goes into effect.

Any money Bell makes coaching in that time would be deducted from the total UMass owes him, Bamford said. He added that the funds to pay Bell will not come from state money, but from what he called "unrestricted fundraising accounts."

Alex Miller — who was on the field for UMass football when he was an undergraduate, and most recently was the team's offensive line coach — was named as interim head coach. He'll oversee the final three games of the season.

The UMass Minutemen are on the field next against the Maine Black Bears in Amherst Saturday.

Copyright 2021 New England Public Media. To see more, visit New England Public Media.

Jill has been reporting, producing features and commentaries, and hosting shows at NEPR since 2005. Before that she spent almost 10 years at WBUR in Boston, five of them producing PRI’s “The Connection” with Christopher Lydon. In the months leading up to the 2000 primary in New Hampshire, Jill hosted NHPR’s daily talk show, and subsequently hosted NPR’s All Things Considered during the South Carolina Primary weekend. Right before coming to NEPR, Jill was an editor at PRI's The World, working with station based reporters on the international stories in their own domestic backyards. Getting people to tell her their stories, she says, never gets old.

Stand up for civility

This news story is funded in large part by Connecticut Public’s Members — listeners, viewers, and readers like you who value fact-based journalism and trustworthy information.

We hope their support inspires you to donate so that we can continue telling stories that inform, educate, and inspire you and your neighbors. As a community-supported public media service, Connecticut Public has relied on donor support for more than 50 years.

Your donation today will allow us to continue this work on your behalf. Give today at any amount and join the 50,000 members who are building a better—and more civil—Connecticut to live, work, and play.