COPPERAS COVE — The Copperas Cove ISD Board of Trustees approved the resignation and retirement of Athletic Director Jack Welch Thursday in a closed door special session of the school board.

A letter from the school board said the resignation was effective May 1, 2018. It also included a message from Welch.

After much prayer and reflection, I have decided to retire from Copperas Cove ISD. I have dedicated my life to helping young people for thirty-eight years. I have been fortunate to have served as Athletic Director and Head Football Coach for Copperas Cove ISD for twenty-four consecutive years. I truly appreciate the Copperas Cove School Board Members, Superintendent Dr. Joe Burns, and the Copperas Cove community for the support extended to all of our athletics programs over the years. Without this support, the extraordinary successes achieved would simply have not been possible.

It is extremely rare for a coach to stay in one place for twenty-four years. I am deeply grateful to the community for the outstanding support, our coaches for their dedication and friendship and all of the student athletes from the past to the present for making this job my Mayberry. Mayberry was a great television show and had a remarkable run but it even came to an end. Now, we can all enjoy the re-runs. I will forever envision the re-runs of Copperas Cove football warmly in my memories.

I wish CCISD the very best in the future and I look forward to exploring how I may continue to serve our students and community.

The board said the search for a new Athletic Director would begin immediately.

Welch's absence was first reported last week when Channel 6 confirmed his office had been cleaned out and the locks had been changed. Welch had been the head football coach since 1994.

Spring football practices have been canceled and football summer camps are currently up in the air according to the Copperas Cove athletic office.

Welch has an overall record of 193-84-1. The Bulldawgs hadn't reached the playoffs since 1960 before Welch's arrival in 1994. Welch led the Bulldawgs to the Class 4A Division I State Title games in 2006 and 2007, finishing as runners-up in both appearances. Cove went to the Class 5A Division II state semifinals in 2008.

Welch has the most wins of any head coach in Copperas Cove history. He also coached Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III.