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Phillips won't return as Kentucky football coach

Lexington, KY (Sports Network) - University of Kentucky head football coach Joker Phillips will not be back after the 2012 season.

The Wildcats are 1-9 heading into a bye week and are coming off a 40-0 loss against Vanderbilt on Saturday that dropped them to 0-7 in the SEC.

Kentucky athletic director Mitch Barnhart made the announcement Sunday in an open letter on the university's athletic website.

"After much conversation, evaluation and prayer, I have determined that it is in the best interest of our athletics program to make a change in our football coaching staff at the conclusion of the season," Barnhart wrote. "I do so with a heavy heart for a man who has served his alma mater for almost 22 years as a player and a coach."

Phillips played at Kentucky from 1981-84, was an assistant from 1988-96 and again from 2003-09. He was elevated from offensive coordinator to head coach in January 2010 after the retirement of Rich Brooks and has a record of just 12-23 in three seasons.

"We, as coaches, are measured on results," said Phillips in a statement on Sunday. "We didn't get the results we had worked and hoped for, therefore change is needed. In my current 10-year stay at Kentucky, we've had some memorable moments as an assistant, coordinator and head coach. We've had the opportunity to coach some fine young men and I am grateful to have had the privilege of watching them grow as players, as students and as people."

Phillips inherited a team that went to bowl games in each of Brooks' last four years and guided Kentucky to a 6-7 mark in his first season of 2010, one that ended with a bowl loss to Pittsburgh. The Wildcats were 5-7 last year before this season's disastrous start.

"Joker Phillips has carried the banner for the Blue and White with honor and pride," Barnhart added. "I have enjoyed working alongside him and am thankful for his friendship for the last decade. His concern for the entire program, his work and teaching of young people, his humanitarian work, and the friendship we all enjoy with him will long surpass the scoreboard. I want to thank him for all of those things on behalf of Kentucky."

Phillips has also had coaching stops at Cincinnati (1997-98), Minnesota (1999-2000), Notre Dame (2001) and South Carolina (2002).

"I am very appreciative of Mitch Barnhart and Rich Brooks for providing the opportunity to have been the head coach here," Phillips added.

Barnhart said the search for a successor will begin immediately as the Wildcats close the season with games against Samford on Nov. 17 and Tennessee the following week.

11/04 17:10:22 ET

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