Calling it "a very difficult process" and asking for privacy, Arizona Wildcats football coach Mike Stoops announced Monday that he and his wife, Nicole, are divorcing.

Stoops, 47, was visibly emotional when he made the announcement at the end of his weekly news conference. Mike and Nicole Stoops, 33, were married in July 2001; they have two young children, Payton and Colton.

"You guys know how important family is to me, Nicole, Colton and Payton," Stoops said. "It's a very difficult process. Just respect us and my family. They're very important to me. OK?"

Stoops then issued a short written statement that read: "Sadly, I must make the announcement today that my wife, Nicole, and I have separated and will be taking the difficult step of a divorce. This is a very hard time for us but more so for our two young children as this is a very personal matter.

"I am asking everyone to please respect our privacy as we work through this."

Stoops said he will have no further comment on the matter.

Ryan Finley