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Mark Dantonio steps down as head football coach at Michigan State

Mark Dantonio steps down as head football coach at Michigan State
Michigan State head football coach Mark Dantonio (L) coached the Spartans for 13 seasons and won three Big Ten championships. File Photo by Ian Halperin/UPI | License Photo

Feb. 4 (UPI) -- Longtime Michigan State head football coach Mark Dantonio announced Tuesday that he's stepping down from his role at the school.

Mike Tressel will serve as the Spartans' interim head coach while a search is conducted to find Dantonio's replacement, according to the school.

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"Today marks one of the most difficult decisions that I have ever made here at Michigan State," Dantonio said in a statement Tuesday. "I would first like to thank our fans, alumni, and our administration; both past and present staff and especially our current and past players and coaches for all their support, hard work and dedication over these past 13 years.

"You have truly helped make my dreams come true. Every February since 2007, I have reset this program in preparation for the next year's challenges. After much reflection and discussion with my family, I feel that it is now time for change as we enter into a new decade of Michigan State football."

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Dantonio, 63, coached at Michigan State for 13 seasons, guiding the program to three Big Ten championships, a Rose Bowl win and a College Football Playoff berth.

Dantonio, the winningest coach in program history, is expected to remain at the school in a "special projects" role with the athletic department.

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"I have told our players on many occasions that 'Michigan State is bigger than any one person. Someday there will be someone else here talking to you from this podium.' That day has come," Dantonio said. "My plan is to stay on within the university and athletic department in a role involving special projects, especially transitioning our players, both current and incoming, to their next challenges."

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