(RNN) - Longtime University of Texas football coach Mack Brown is stepping down as coach of the Longhorns, according to the school's official athletic website.
A release posted Saturday said Brown will leave the position he has held for 16 years after coaching the team in the Valero Alamo Bowl on Dec. 30 when it faces Oregon.
The website had been MackBrown-TexasFootball.com for several years in honor of the coach but has since been changed to Texassports.com.
"I thank everyone. It's been a wonderful ride," Brown said in a statement. "Now, the program is again being pulled in different directions, and I think the time is right for a change. I love the University of Texas, all of its supporters, the great fans and everyone that played and coached here. I can't thank DeLoss Dodds enough for bringing our family here, and Bill Powers and the administration for supporting us at a place where I have made lifelong friendships."
He reportedly talked with his players about the decision earlier Saturday, and a news conference is scheduled for Sunday afternoon.
Brown's job status has been the source of speculation for several months and came to a head when the Longhorns lost to Ole Miss in the third game of the season, dropping them to 1-2. They also failed to win the Big 12 championship this year and are just 10 games above .500 since losing to Alabama in the 2010 BCS Championship Game.
Another source of conversation regarding the embattled coach - whether Alabama's Nick Saban would take the job if Brown was fired or resigned - seemed to have died since Alabama announced an extension Friday that will make Saban the highest-paid coach in America.
Steve Patterson, who replaced Dodds as the athletic director at Texas earlier this year, called Brown a college football legend who has been a great ambassador for the school.
"I've had a number of talks with him recently, and he has always said he wanted what was best for the University of Texas," Patterson stated. "I know this decision weighed heavily on him, and today he told us he's ready to move forward."
Brown had a record of 158-47 as coach at Texas and had become a celebrated figure in a state that puts serious emphasis on football. He entered the season with 236 career head coaching wins, also holding positions at North Carolina and Tulane, placing him 11th on the all-time list.
He and the Longhorns won the BCS title in 2005 with a victory over then-defending champion Southern California. It was the first national championship for the program in 35 years, and Brown was also named the Paul "Bear" Bryant National Coach of the Year at season's end.
The Longhorns had won double-digit games every year from 2001 through 2009, but the program took a turn after their loss to the Crimson Tide in the title game.
The following year, Brown's team went 5-7, the only time in his tenure they had been under .500. It was the first time a team Brown coached, including North Carolina, had won less than six games since 1990. It also broke a string of 18 straight seasons he had taken teams to a bowl game.
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