Massachusetts fires football coach Morris

Massachusetts head coach Kevin Morris has been released from his contract, director of athletics John McCutheon announced on Monday.

A national search is already underway, and the new coach will lead UMass in its first season of FBS play next season. The Minutemen will play in the Mid- American Conference.

"I thank Kevin for his hard work during his eight years with the UMass football program including the last three as head coach," McCutcheon said. "With the transition to the Football Bowl Subdivision and the Mid-American Conference, I felt it was important for the program to have a new direction in leadership."

UMass will join the MAC next season as a football-only member and will not be eligible for the MAC Championship or a bowl game until 2013.

Morris went 16-17 in his three seasons leading the Minutemen, including a 5-6 campaign this year. Previously, he served as their offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach for five seasons (2004-08).

He had two years remaining on his contract.