Tim Whitehead is out as the University of Maine men's hockey coach, according to university officials.

University of Maine President Paul Ferguson confirmed Tuesday that the university will buy out the remaining one year of Whitehead's contract, ending his appointment as head coach after 11 seasons.

Last season, Whitehead led the Black Bears to a 11-19-8 record after a rough start. The team finished in 8th place in Hockey East and lost to UMass-Lowell in the first round of the playoffs.

University officials cited the decline of the once-lauded program in their decision to part ways with Whitehead.


“This is about the future of our marquee program," Director of Athletics Steve Abbott said in a statement. "Since 2008, UMaine has experienced declining Hockey East success, season ticket sales and overall ticket revenues, and waning student engagement in men's ice hockey. The president and I are committed to ensuring that our men's hockey program is financially sustainable, continues to focus on developing the student-athlete and is known nationally for excellence.”

Whitehead had one year remaining on a four-year extension of his employment contract negotiated in 2010. In choosing not to pursue an extension, the university will give Whitehad $195,000 (his annual salary) plus one month's salary in lieu of notice.

Whitehead said in a statement it had been an honor to serve as the head coach, and he valued the relationships he had built with his team and the community.

"The Maine hockey fans are the best in the country, and they have a lot to look forward to for next season and beyond," Whitehead said. "I love our returning core of players and our incoming recruits. I'm confident this team will build on our strong second half this season, and that they will compete among the top programs in the nation next year."

A formal national search for a new men's ice hockey coach will begin immediately with the formation of a search committee.