Steve Lochmueller

Any reference to Stephen Lochmueller was methodically removed from the Eastern Kentucky University website on Friday.

School officials, however, did not offer any sort of comment on his status for more than 72 hours.

And when they did, the response probably raised more questions than it provided answers -- especially considering what was already known about the situation.

On Monday evening, EKU released a statement saying that Lochmueller had stepped down as director of athletics, a position he held for more than four years.

The press release said the decision was effective Friday, Oct. 18 -- and even included a copy of a resignation letter, signed by Lochmueller.

The statement also indicated that former EKU athletic director Mark Sandy was returning to the position in an interim basis.

That official announcement capped a very interesting series of events.

On Friday night, the Richmond Register confirmed through multiple sources that Lochmueller and EKU had indeed parted ways.

It was unclear at that time if he had resigned, been fired or some other arrangement had been reached.

Lochmueller spoke with the Richmond Register on Saturday morning and confirmed that he was no longer an employee of the university, but declined to speak in any other detail about the situation.

He added that he was pulling for the EKU football team to pick up a victory over Murray State later in the day.

"I'm a Colonel," he said.

Just a few hours later, the Register confirmed through multiple sources that Sandy would be returning to EKU.

He had held that position from 2005 to 2015 before moving on to Ball State.

He retired in June 2018 and moved to Virginia to be closer to his family.

On Monday afternoon, the school held its weekly football press conference. Coach Mark Elder and a pair of players were made available to the press.

In addition to members of the athletic department, two members of university staff sat in on the event -- including University Counsel Dana Fohl.

No members of the media asked Elder about the departure of Lochmueller.

The school finally released a statement about Lochmueller at 6:49 p.m. Monday. The press release said he stepped down from the position to pursue other opportunities.

"We would like to thank Mr. Lochmueller for his years of service to EKU Athletics. He has helped provide a quality experience for our student athletes and oversaw some vital infrastructure and personnel changes for our athletics programs," said EKU President Michael Benson in the release. "We wish him the best in his future endeavors."

During his tenure, EKU athletics saw record averages in student-athlete GPAs and an all-time high in student-athlete community service hours. Beach volleyball was added as a sport, while men's and women's tennis were disbanded.

EKU athletics also received four-consecutive OVC Commissioner's Cup awards as a symbol of overall athletic excellence within the conference since 2015 and 22 individual sport conference championships.

Colonel athletic facilities have received significant renovations and improvements.

The statement said a national search will begin immediately for Lochmueller's replacement.

Sandy said he was excited to return to EKU.

"I look forward to helping the University navigate this transition smoothly to ensure the continued success of EKU Athletics," Sandy said.

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