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Navy coach George Welsh has told his football players...

ANNAPOLIS, Md. -- Navy coach George Welsh has told his football players that he accepted the head coaching job at Virginia, the Washington Post reported Tuesday night.

The formal announcement will be made at an 11 a.m. news conference in Charlottesville, Va., the newspaper said.

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'I told the squad that there's a time to stay and a time to leave and, for me, I feel it's time to leave,' Welsh told the Post Tuesday night.

'The meeting last 15 minutes and I did all of the talking. There weren't any questions. Besides, what could they say? I'm going to see them all again Thursday anyway.'

Welsh will coach Navy against Ohio State in the Liberty Bowl in Memphis, Dec. 30. Practices for that game begin Thursday.

In his nine years here, Welsh's teams had a 55-45-1 record.

At Virginia, Welsh will replace Dick Bestwick, fired last month after compiling a 16-49-1 record in six seasons and leading the Cavaliers to a disastrous 1-10 record last season.

University of Virginia athletic officials Tuesday refused to confirm published reports that Welsh would succeed the fired Dick Bestwick.

'I can't confirm that,' said Doug Elgin, Virginia sports information director when asked if Welsh would be the Cavaliers' new head coach.

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'The rumor around here is very strong,' Elgin added. 'But the only people who know are (Athletic Director) Dick Schultz and the coach he has hired.'

The Richmond Times-Dispatch said in its Tuesday editions that Welsh, who has directed the Midshipmen for nine years, was Schultz' choice to succeed Bestwick, whom Schultz fired two weeks ago.

Elgin said that Schultz would hold a press conference Wednesday at 11 a.m. to announce his selection.

Elgin said it was unlikely that Welsh, if hired, would be forced to accept 'performance guidelines' set by Schultz on the number of wins he must acheive in a season. Bestwick was fired when he refused to accept the wins quota.

'I would think that a man of his (Welsh's) stature would be given time to prove that he can win at Virginia,' Elgin said.

Elgin said that Welsh's salary would probably be considerably higher than Bestwick's, who reportedly was earning between $42,000 and $45,000. 'Welsh is getting $52,500 and I doubt if he would take anything less than a pay raise,' Elgin said.

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