Mark Hudspeth was suspended for 'unacceptable conduct' before he resigned as APSU football coach

George Robinson
Clarksville Leaf-Chronicle

Former Austin Peay football coach Mark Hudspeth was serving a 20-day suspension for "unacceptable conduct" when he resigned on July 3 after only one season with the Governors.

Hudspeth was suspended without pay from June 17 to July 10, according to an email from athletic director Gerald Harrison. The email and other documents related to Hudspeth's sudden departure were obtained by The Leaf-Chronicle through an open records request. 

On Thursday, Harrison would not elaborate on what led to Hudspeth's suspension or resignation. Harrison previously said told The Leaf-Chronicle that Hudspeth's resignation didn't have anything to do with the school suspending athletic activities when 11 players tested positive for COVID-19.

"In regards to Coach Hudspeth's suspension, I'll refer to that email," Harrison told The Leaf-Chronicle Thursday. "I'm not going to get into it anymore than that. In both of those clauses that were referenced in the email, nowhere does it refer to COVID-19."

In Harrison's email to Hudspeth on June 17, he said the reasons for Hudspeth's suspension were "your recent unacceptable conduct and violation of sections 10.1.2 and 10.1.8 of your employment agreement."

Section 10.1.2 of Hudspeth's contract says "if the Athletic Director determines in his reasonable discretion that coach Hudspeth has willfully engaged in conduct that is clearly contrary to the character and responsibilities of a person occupying the position of Head Football Coach and which negatively or adversely affects the reputation of the University or its athletic programs in any material way."

According to Section 10.1.8, "Egregious personal conduct that is reasonably determined by the Athletic Director or President to negatively, adversely and materially affect the reputation or operation of the APSU athletics program."

Mark Hudspeth, head football coach at Austin Peay State University, sits down for an interview and portraits with the Leaf-Chronicle at Fortera Stadium in Clarksville, Tenn., on Friday, April 12, 2019.

During Hudspeth's suspension he was restricted from all areas of the university, and the email added the school "reserves the right to levy further disciplinary action if it is determined that you were not completely transparent or if new details arise regarding this situation, up to and including termination."

After Hudspeth's announcement, Harrison wouldn't say  if he resigned on his own or if he was asked to resign, adding "In all of our coaches' contracts there is a level of personal expectations that we have as a school policy."

Harrison reiterated that point Thursday.

"I'm just going to say that Coach Hudspeth resigned and I accepted that resignation," Harrison said.

Hudspeth guided the Govs to an 11-4 record in 2019, its first OVC title in more than 40 years and the program's first FCS playoff appearance.

Hudspeth has not returned repeated phone calls.

Austin Peay named associate coach Marquase Lovings the interim coach July 7.

Hudspeth was already suspended when shutdown announced 

Hudspeth had been suspended 10 days when the decision was made to shut down athletic activities after the players tested positive for COVID-19.  

In an email dated June 28, Harrison corresponded with associate vice president for student affairs Greg Singleton about a player's possible violation of quarantine.

Harrison sent an email to the university's coaches and athletic staff June 27, writing that he was "suspending all voluntary and involuntary student-athlete workouts" after 11 football players tested positive for COVID-19.

News of that decision was released June 29 through a university release.

Harrison told The Leaf-Chronicle two weeks ago that one player had tested positive for COVID-19 when workouts resumed June 13. Precautions were taken at the time.

Reach Prep writer George Robinson at georgerobinson@theleafchronicle.com or (931) 245-0747 and on Twitter @Cville_Sports.