Editor's Note: this story was updated at 10:20 a.m. with comments from the press conference.
Early reports were true, Kent State head football coach Darrell Hazell is leaving the Golden Flashes to take the top coaching job at Purdue University.
Hazell broke the news first to his coaching staff in a 6:15 a.m. meeting on campus this morning, and then he told the players in a brief gathering at 6:30 a.m., the coach said in a press conference on campus today.
The 2012 MAC Coach of the Year said he was in the room with his players for less than 5 minutes. He made a brief statement and asked if they had any questions — but there weren't any.
"I told them I loved them and I walked out," Hazell said. "This is an opportunity that’s very positive for me. I feel that I need to do it.
"I knew it would get emotional," he said. "I got a lot of texts from the guys after thanking me, but I need to thank them for all they’ve done for me."
Purdue Athletic Director Morgan J. Burke announced Hazell's hiring from West Lafeyette, IN, in a press release issued this morning hours before Hazell's press conference in Kent at 10 a.m.
"Darrell is a great fit to build on our existing foundation," Burke said. "His leadership at Kent State, combined with his prior experience at Ohio State and other stops along the way, has prepared him to help us continue to move toward developing a championship-caliber program."
Hazell, who led the Kent State Golden Flashes (11-2, 8-0 MAC) to their first bowl game appearance this year in more than 40 years, had been rumored to be a candidate in several head coaching jobs across the country.
Kent Patch first reported the news Tuesday afternoon after an Indiana-based journalist reported Hazell had reached an agreement with Purdue to take over the head coaching job for the Boilermakers, who are part of the Big Ten Conference for intercollegiate athletics that includes Ohio State University.
At this morning's press conference, Hazell said when early reports started to surface Tuesday afternoon they were partially inaccurate because he hadn't yet accepted the job at that point.
The coach will leave Kent at about 4 p.m. today to fly to Indiana for an evening press conference at Purdue to announce his hiring. Then it will be a few days of back and forth for him to get settled in his new position.
This year Hazell led the the Flashes through a dream season that will culminate with their appearance in the GoDaddy.com Bowl Jan. 6.
He said Purdue athletic officials have granted him permission to coach Kent State in the GoDaddy.com Bowl.
Hazell, 48, will become the 35th head football coach in Purdue's history, the Indianapolis Star reports. The second-year Kent State coach will replace Danny Hope, who was fired by Purdue after four seasons.
Hazell said he was excited to work with the Indiana college in the Big Ten Conference.
"Obviously it’s in the BCS conference," he said. "It’s a school with great academics with a ton of possibilities of success on the football field, and they need some energy out there at this point in time.”
"I can’t thank the people here at Kent State enough," Hazell said. "I’m very grateful for my time here and the friendships and relationships that I’ve built in the short period of time."