Citing family reasons, Duane Akina left the Arizona Wildcats on Monday after one month as the team's secondary coach.
Akina will return to the University of Texas as the Longhorns associate head coach and defensive backs coach, the UA said in a news release. He will replace Jerry Gray, who left Texas on Saturday to become defensive coordinator for the NFL's Tennessee Titans.
Akina, 54, said Monday he made a family decision. Akina and his wife, Donna, have five children, with the youngest two still living at home. Donna Akina and the Akinas' two youngest children remained in Texas after Akina accepted the UA job last month and were scheduled to move west later this spring.
"I'm not happy that I had to put both of these institutions in this situation," Akina said. "It's been a tough month for me and my family making these decisions. Any time you have younger children, it becomes a very difficult decision, and that was the driving force behind this decision.
"Arizona is a wonderful place that is special to me. I came here because this is a solid program that is on the rise. Mike (Stoops) is an outstanding coach, and I am sorry it didn't work out. He has a tremendous staff in place."
Stoops and athletic director Greg Byrne both said they were disappointed with Akina's sudden decision but understood his logic. Gray was set to make $425,000 annually at Texas; Akina's UA salary would have been competitive with that figure, Byrne said.
"We were excited to have Duane on our staff," Stoops said. "We respect his decision and wish the best for him and his family."
Byrne said, "Although (we're) disappointed because of the commitment we had made, we respect coach Akina's decision based on family."
Stoops and Byrne were roundly praised last month when they lured Akina away from Texas, where he had spent 10 seasons as co-defensive coordinator, secondary coach and associate head coach.
At the time, Akina said he was excited to return to Tucson; he served as Dick Tomey's most trusted assistant from 1987 to 2000 and was retained by John Mackovic when he took over after Tomey's final year. However, Akina left for Texas before Mackovic's Arizona teams played a game. Mackovic hired Larry Mac Duff to take his place.
The Wildcats will try to replace Akina before spring drills start March 21; the team's annual spring game is scheduled for April 16. There seem to be few natural fits for the job, though UA legend Chuck Cecil is on the market after being let go by the Titans. Akina was the only candidate to formally interview for Arizona's opening a month ago.
Stoops and Byrne met Monday afternoon to discuss their next move. Stoops said he remains optimistic that the UA can find the right fit.
"We have always hired good people to come into our program," Stoops said. "We've always had great coaches for our system and players. We will make sure that we hire another quality person."