Don Pyke has stepped down from his role as Adelaide Crows senior coach, claiming the club wouldn’t progress if he remained at the club as he was “part of the problem”.
Pyke leaves after four seasons, including an appearance in the 2017 Grand Final but missing the finals the past two seasons.
The club said Pyke’s decision was unrelated to the current internal and external reviews of the football department.
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“This is a resignation, completely separate to anything that’s going on. There’s no termination payment,” chairman Rob Chapman said.
“There’s really, really good people in our football club. And this hurts, I can’t say it any other way. I’m not happy about it and I’m still wrestling about it, is this right? I’m still not sure about it.”
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Pyke was still contracted until the end of 2021, meaning the club was unlikely to be able to afford to sack him.
“I’ve loved my time here. The decision has been extraordinarily difficult to reach, and I’ve made it after some serious and honest discussions,” Pyke told reporters.
“There were a number of factors in my decision, but with change required, it came down to what was in the best interest of the club. The club needs clean air, and for me to continue would hold back progress for us to move positively into 2020.
“To continue coaching in the current environment (around the club) is simply not sustainable.
“With the side performing as it is, I recognise that I’m part of the problem. The real question I’ve grappled with is that I’m also part of the solution. I’ve felt that I’ve reached the decision that it’s best to hand over to a fresh face.”
The move comes with Adelaide set to undergo a major list overhaul in the off-season, with many veteran players on the trade block.
It also follows Taylor Walker stepping down as Adelaide captain, in a move also said to be independent of the ongoing club reviews.
The Crows will now embark on a search for their next senior coach, with a panel to be determined over the coming days.
Pyke leaves Adelaide with the best winning percentage of any coach in club history (60.75 per cent), and was fifth among active coaches behind Chris Scott, Adam Simpson, John Longmire and Alastair Clarkson.
“It has been an absolute privilege and joy to coach this club and I have loved my time here trying to achieve great things with our players for our Members and fans,” Pyke said.
“I came here with the aim of helping our players to individually and collectively be the best they can be and this has been my driving force.
“It has been a wonderful ride with some great memories and unfortunately some sad times, but now it is clear to me it is my time to move on knowing I have given my all.
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“This decision has been extraordinarily difficult to reach but vital for me is the club and playing group being able to move forward, and the health and happiness of important people in my life.”
Adelaide becomes the fifth club to see its senior coach depart in 2019, following Carlton (Brendon Bolton), Fremantle (Ross Lyon), North Melbourne (Brad Scott) and St Kilda (Alan Richardson).
Pyke first raised the idea of him leaving the club two weeks ago in a meeting with Chapman and chief executive Andrew Fagan.
“First and foremost, Don is a quality person of high integrity who is driven by strong values, but he is also a talented coach and leader,” Chapman said.
“He took charge of the team at the end of 2015 as everyone in the Crows family was emerging from the most tragic of circumstances and he led with compassion, while bringing a thorough approach and driving high standards both on and off the field.
“Coaching is a very demanding career and we not only thank him but also his family – to his wife Jodie and daughters Ashton and Chandler – for sharing their husband and father in recent years. We wish them the very best for the future.”
Pyke was appointed Adelaide’s coach for the 2016 season, after the death of incumbent Phil Walsh during the 2015 campaign.