- Associated Press - Thursday, August 14, 2014

HAVRE, Mont. (AP) - Mark Samson has resigned as the Montana State University-Northern head football coach after being placed on administrative leave for an undisclosed personnel issue, university officials said.

The statement Wednesday night from the Havre university did not give a reason for Samson’s resignation, but the coach later said he made a mistake by depositing money meant for football camp operations into a personal bank account instead of a university account.

Samson told The Great Falls Tribune (https://gftrib.com/1q9kVKS) that he did not steal and all the money was accounted for.

“It was just a bad decision on my part. Honestly, I am not fighting the punishment. The amount of money we’re talking about is not very much at all. But people have decided I need to go, and I’ve accepted that on the advice of my lawyers,” he said.

University spokesman Jim Potter would not detail the circumstances surrounding Samson’s resignation.

“It was a violation of university policies related to the operation of a football camp,” Potter said. “The investigation was handled by the university’s internal auditor.”

Defensive coordinator Jake Eldridge has been named interim head coach for the upcoming season, and the university statement said a national search would be conducted for a permanent replacement.

University officials said Tuesday that Samson had been placed on administrative leave with pay for a personnel matter.

Samson coached the Lights for 10 years, leading the team to a 45-60 record. He was the Frontier Conference coach of the year and National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics Region 9 coach of the year in 2006.

Eldridge is a Helena native who played defensive back for the Lights for four years after transferring there in 2004. He has been MSU-Northern’s defensive coordinator for the past three years, and he was the head of the team’s strength and conditioning program before that.

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