WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- UNCW is looking for a new athletics director for the third time in five years. This morning Kelly Mehrtens called it quits.
"I'm here today to announce that I'm resigning as Athletics Director at UNCW to pursue other professional opportunities," Mehrtens said at a news conference.
After a series of incidents that garnered negative attention, Mehrtens is out as athletics director. The firing of basketball coach Benny Moss in January and the delay in finding his replacement brought much criticism, but it wasn't just the demise of the men's basketball team. The latest attention grabber was an incident last week involving a women's basketball player, who was forced log roll up and down the court as punishment. Chancellor Rosemary DePaolo said Mehrtens's decision to step down today was unrelated.
"These two things are not linked, except by the coincidence of time," DePaolo said.
DePaolo explained Seahawk Nation is at a crossroads.
"We either can keep our athletics programs as they are, or we can make our athletics programs soar, as we have done with so many of our other programs at this university," she said.
It's not the first time DePaolo has found herself at this intersection. Since coming to UNCW in 2003, she's been through three ADs. In the summer of 2007 DePaolo hired Mehrtens.
During Mehrtens's tenure at UNCW, student athletes have collected many academic awards, but to her dismay, those accolades are often overlooked.
"Unfortunately, all too frequently, it seems too much attention is focussed on other things other than the accomplishments and achievements of our student athletes and coaches," Mehrtens said. "That attention has become a distraction, not only to our athletic programs but to our university as a whole."
Also hurting Mehrtens's record, a drastic drop off in donations to the Seahawk Club.
The timing of her resignation is tough. Midnight Madness, which marks the start of basketball season is just a couple weeks away.
While no successor has been named, the goal will be to have at least an interim AD when UNCW's marquee sport tips off.