Griz football head coach Bob Stitt (MTN News photo)

MISSOULA – The University of Montana will have a new head football coach for the fourth time in nine seasons.

Athletic Director Kent Haslam announced on Monday afternoon that he will not renew Bob Stitt’s contract.

Stitt came to UM after 15 successful seasons at the Colorado School of Mines.

He went 21-14 in three seasons with the Griz, and 14-10 in Big Sky Conference play.

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Montana lost to Montana State for the second straight time on Saturday, missing out on the FCS playoffs for a second straight year.

But, Haslam made it clear his decision was not a knee-jerk reaction to another loss against the rival Bobcats.

Griz players took to social media to thank Coach Stitt.

Starting quarterback Gresch Jensen said “Coach Stitt will always have a big place in my heart. Taught me so much about football and life.  People don’t see all he did to help make this program so great. Wish we had more time together, we were on the way to something special. All the best for him and his family.”

Player Eric Williams expressed similar sentiments, saying “Thank you for all you have given us. You’ve made us better football players, stronger people, and wiser men. We will never forget you or the opportunities you have given us. May you and your family enjoy much success in the future.”

Reactions also poured in today from fans…..Griz Nation has mixed feelings about the decision to let Stitt go.

“I guess the boosters spoke. I think if we were all honest everybody was kind of expecting something like this I believe,” Griz fan Matt Warner said.

“I’m really sad to see Stitt go. I really like him, but its the nature of the beast I guess but I wish him well. You don’t necessarily have a full class come through in three years,” Sara Hawkins added. “So it’s hard. If you have a recruiting class from freshmen, they are not even seniors yet. In three years which I think is difficult. Three and done is hard life for a coach I think.

Haslam said the search for a new coach will begin immediately.

– information from Derek Buerkle and Kent Luetzen included in this report.