South Alabama coach Joey Jones stepping down at end of season

South Alabama coach Joey Jones submitted his resignation on Monday, the school announced.

Jones will continue to coach the football team until the end of his contract. The Jaguars visit New Mexico State on Dec. 2.

"There comes a time in every program where there is a need for change. For this program that I love so much, that time is now," Jones said in a statement. "One of the proudest days of my professional life was being the named the first head coach at South Alabama. Today is difficult, but it is the right step for me, my family and for this football program."

South Alabama is 4-7 this season and is in seventh place in the Sun Belt Conference.

South Alabama launched its football program on Dec. 6, 2007, and Jones was hired as the team's first head coach on Feb. 15, 2008. South Alabama played its first game in 2009 in the Football Championship Subdivision and transitioned to the Football Bowl Subdivision in 2013.

"Joey Jones is the father of our football program. He, his wife Elise and his entire family put their arms around the program and committed to its establishment and growth," athletics director Joel Erdmann said in the statement. "He has placed South Alabama Football on strong footing, which is something he and his family can be very proud of and we sincerely appreciate. His good, hard work and commitment will forever be recognized."

The 55-year-old Jones is 52-49 in eight-plus seasons with South Alabama. He said in the statement that he will assist the school in finding his replacement.

"I have met with my team and my coaches to announce my decision," he said. "I will assist the University in every way possible as they look for the next head coach. I made my decision now to ensure that Joel and his team would have time to conduct their search prior to the new early signing date.