(STATS) - Howard University will not renew the contract of football coach Gary Harrell after five seasons.

The 44-year-old Harrell went 2-9 this past season, including 2-6 in the MEAC, and was 20-36 at his alma mater from 2011-16. He took a personal leave of absence in 2013 and did not coach that season.

"This was a very difficult decision given that my relationship with Coach Harrell extends back to my days as an undergraduate student," Howard president Wayne A.I. Frederick said in a news release. "We extend our very best wishes and a profound thank you to Coach Harrell for his dedication and hard work with the University's football program."

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Harrell, a 1993 Howard graduate and former wide receiver known by the nickname "Flea," had one winning season with the Bison, going 7-4 overall and 6-2 in the MEAC to finish second in 2012.

A report in The Hilltop, the school newspaper, said the search for a new coach will begin in the near future.