Gilbert coach Dan Dunn said he's stepping down as the Tigers football coach.
Dunn was on his second tour of duty at the school after returning in 2009, and said Friday his decision not to return "was solely up to me."
"A combination of old age and being the only coach on campus has proved more difficult than I thought," he said. "I would like to stay and coach, but I think this puts (the school) in a position to bring someone in who can be on campus and perhaps I can work with the younger kids, or help them do what needs to be done."
Dunn was 15-18 in three seasons with the Tigers, including a memorable first-round playoff upset of Basha in 2010.
But Dunn also said the demands of being the program's only on-campus coach with few on-campus teaching positions available for assistants in recent years, plus new academics responsibilities in his teaching duties and the school's declining enrollment numbers have made coaching more difficult.
"It was a continuing problem that's kept coming and I don't see a solution for it," he said.
He'll continue teaching math full-time at the school, and would like to continue coaching at the lower levels, but that will ultimately be decided by the Tigers' next coach.
It's an idea similar to what former Apache Junction coach Rich Milligan did last spring when he resigned as varsity coach to instead work on the freshman and sophomore levels.
"I'm pretty content here (at Gilbert)," he said. "I've got great people I work with and administration has been good. I'm content and we've been in the mix most years, it's just a matter of me trying to keep the energy up."
Widely revered by coaches young and old, Dunn, 66, has coached for more than 40 years in the Valley (high school and Mesa Community College). When Jesse Parker resigned from Gilbert after the 2008 season, Dunn returned after being at MCC, with a year off (2008) in between.
He's also had a smattering of health issues in recent years, including a knee replacement, but said his health was "fine" and that it wasn't a factor in his decision.
In his first go-round at the school, Dunn led Gilbert to Class 3A state championships in 1973 and 1975, a Class 4A crown in 1978 and state runner‐up finishes in 1977, 1979 and 1981. His record during his first tour of duty at Gilbert was 88‐23‐1.
He also coached at Payson and was an assistant at Red Mountain.
"The administration and people at the school are good people and easy to work for, and they care about the program," Dunn said. "It was one of the reasons I came back."
Gilbert's coaching vacancy is the fourth in the East Valley this winter, along with Westwood, Dobson and Combs.
Mark Heller is the Tribune sports editor. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (480) 898-6576.