Peter Stewart resigned as men's basketball coach of Minot State University on Monday, citing a need to spend more time with his family.
"I think you are constantly weighing your priorities and I have a growing family that wants dad around more," Stewart said in a press release issued by the university Tuesday. "It was my intention to coach and be a part of this forever, but things change. I had to re-evaluate my family, faith and friends.
"It will be hard to walk away from a great group of guys. We will still be a part of the program and cheer those guys on, it will just be from a different chair."
Stewart and his wife Julie - the girls basketball coach at Bishop Ryan High School - have three children.
The Parshall native's resignation comes on the cusp of MSU's full membership into NCAA Division II and the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference.
The Beavers suffered through a 4-25 transitional campaign in 2011-2012, when they played just four home games. MSU is set to play a more balanced schedule as a member of the NSIC this season.
Rising senior Josh Johnson, the team's leading scorer and rebounder last season, said Stewart informed his players of his decision Monday night after an open gym workout. The 6-foot-6 forward said "everybody's mouth dropped" upon hearing the news.
"Everything was goin' good, we had players, we redshirted players that was comin' back," Johnson said. "I'm really speechless to this point still. I don't really know what to think of it but I do wish coach Stewart the best. He's a good coach - not a good coach, he's a great coach - and I respect that man a lot."
Johnson said he and his teammates are committed to staying at MSU and will continue to work out in the MSU Dome about three times per week.
"Everybody's stayin' it together," Johnson said. "Me and the other seniors, we've all been contacting people and we've been talking constantly since that night he told us. We're all just gonna stay together and stick this out, and I guess whatever happens, happens. ... Whoever they bring in, we're gonna honor them and make sure we do it their way."
Stewart compiled a 17-42 record in two seasons at MSU. The Beavers return their entire roster except for starting shooting guard Jonas Pollard, who tore his ACL near the end of his senior season.
MSU Athletic Director Rick Hedberg said Tuesday that applications are already arriving and a search for Stewart's replacement has begun. The athletic department is also searching for a replacement for assistant coach Steve Grabowski, who left the Beavers recently for a similar position at the University of North Dakota.
A search committee of about five or six people will attempt to hire a head coach within the next month.
Hedberg said the ideal candidate is "somebody that has had some proven success at the college level and is a proven, successful recruiter. Someone that can relate well with student-athletes and yet communicate well with boosters and supporters of the program."
Stewart couldn't be reached for comment Tuesday.