---- — By The Daily Item
BLOOMSBURG -- An emotional Danny Hale announced his retirement as the Bloomsburg University football coach on Friday afternoon, ending one of the most successful runs in Division II history.
Hale recently completed his 20th season at Bloomsburg and his 25th overall in coaching last fall. At Bloomsburg, Hale posted a record of 173-56-1 (.754) and holds the school record for most coaching victories. In 25 years as a head coach, he had a mark of 213-69-1 (.754) and ranked in the top five among active coaches in NCAA Division II in winning percentage and victories at the end of last season.
Hale will step aside at the end of June and assistant head coach Paul Darragh will assume the role of interim head coach for the 2013 season. A national search for a permanent successor will be conducted later this year.
For Hale the decision to step away was not an easy one.
"After spending the last few months thinking and praying about this decision, I decided it was time to step away from coaching. There is a time for everything in life and now is the time to pass the torch to someone else," said Hale. "It has been an incredible 20 years here at Bloomsburg, and I am extremely proud of the program that has been established here." Bloomsburg University President David Soltz had nothing but praise for Hale.
"On behalf of the entire Bloomsburg University community, I thank Danny for the many years of hard work he has put into making our football team one of the most respected programs in the country," said Soltz. "The positive impact Danny has had on the lives of his players cannot be measured. He will certainly be missed."
Director of athletics Michael McFarland had similar praise.
"Danny Hale is a consummate professional, who has achieved on and off the field," he said. "Danny placed Bloomsburg University football on the college map not only by winning some great football games, but by graduating his players and preparing them for the next chapter in their lives and careers."
In his 20 seasons as head coach at Bloomsburg, Hale led the Huskies to 11 outright or shared Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) Eastern Division titles and eight NCAA post-season playoff berths. In the last 13 seasons (2000-2012) Bloomsburg was one of the most successful NCAA Division II programs with a combined record of 121-32 (.791). Hale was honored in April 2012 when the field at the school was named in his honor following a year-long fundraising effort.
Hale was named the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) District I Coach of the Year nine times, the third highest total in AFCA history. Twice he won the honor in consecutive seasons (2000-2001 and 2005-2006). He was also named the PSAC Eastern Division Coach of the Year 10 times, including four straight years from 1994 to 1997 and back-to-back in 2005 and 2006.
Among the great players Hale coached at Bloomsburg are Irv Sigler, the 1997 winner of the Harlon Hill Award as the nation's top D-II player; Jamar Brittingham, the all-time leading rusher in the history of the school and the PSAC, who finished third in the balloting for the Harlon Hill; and current standout Franklyn Quiteh (Tobyhanna/Pocono Mountain West), who finished third and sixth in the Harlon Hill balloting in his first three years. Quiteh is poised to break Brittingham's school and PSAC career rushing mark next year.
Hale also coached current NFL star Jahri Evans of the New Orleans Saints who is widely regarded as one of the league's top offensive linemen. A total of nine players under Hale were named Associated Press Little All-Americans earning a total of 13 honors.