New Hampshire Football Report

McDonnell’s time away uncertain

University of New Hampshire director of athletics Marty Scarano said Tuesday he’s not sure when Sean McDonnell will be able to resume his duties as UNH’s football coach, but added that he wouldn’t be surprised if McDonnell doesn’t coach this season.

Scarano announced Monday night that McDonnell, who is in his 21st season as UNH’s head coach, would take an immediate leave of absence to deal with a health-related issue. Associate head/quarterbacks coach Ricky Santos, 35, has been named interim head coach.

“We don’t know if Sean will be back coaching this year,” Scarano said. “We’re presuming that’s probably not going to happen and Ricky Santos is going to be the head coach along with all the coaches. It’s going to be a collaboration.

“Don’t misunderstand. We expect him to be back coaching, and we want to hand this (the program) back to him just as he left it.”

Scarano said he expects McDonnell to provide details about his health situation in the near future.

“I’m not going to comment on that (the specific health issue), all I would say to you is it’s obviously a serious enough situation that he needs to step away for an indefinite period of time,” Scarano said. “I think at some point in time Sean will probably elaborate on that. I’m not comfortable talking about it without his divulging what it is.”

McDonnell, 62, was on the field coaching during Sunday’s Blue/White scrimmage, but informed his players Monday night that he would be taking a leave of absence.

McDonnell has a 154-95 career record as a college head coach (all at UNH), including a 98-65 record in conference play. His 98 conference wins ranks third all-time.

He guided the Wildcats to 14 consecutive winning seasons from 2004 to 2017, and the Wildcats advanced to the FCS playoffs each year. UNH reached the FCS semifinals in 2013 and 2014.

Santos, a former UNH quarterback, joined the UNH staff earlier this year. He was UNH’s wide receivers coach from 2013 to 2015, and spent the last three years as an assistant coach at Columbia.

“I’ll be the point man with a lot of this stuff, but the good thing is we have a really veteran staff,” Santos said. “We have a singular focus right now. The only thing we’re worried about is making sure that these student-athletes are well taken care of mentally, and that we can keep everything going in the right direction.

“It’s his program — it’s always going to be his program — and our job is to do our part, myself included and all the other coaches and players, so that it’s ready to go when he’s ready to return.”

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