HARRISONBURG, VA., NOV. 26 -- Joe Purzycki, who led James Madison to its only postseason appearance ever but failed to bring the program the national prominence he had hoped for, resigned today as football coach.

Purzycki, 43, compiled a 34-30-2 record at Madison, but had only two winning seasons during his six-year stint. The Dukes were 5-6 this season, losing four of their final five games.

He will remain with the school in an athletic administration capacity for the remaining 15 months of his contract. He said he decided after a lengthy meeting Sunday with Athletic Director Dean Ehlers that his return next season would only add pressure to a program that is trying to improve.

"Our program began to get mired into this track in which we had to prove ourselves on a given year under certain conditions," said Purzycki. " . . . I think going with the supposition that there would be this death watch imposed once again, I couldn't see it being fair to our kids."

According to a statement, the search for a new coach will begin immediately and will be coordinated by Ehlers and assistant athletic director Brad Babcock. The contracts of Madison's current assistant coaches, which expire next spring, will not be renewed.

Purzycki's most notable failure was his 0-11-1 record against ranked Division I-AA teams since a victory over William and Mary in 1986.

"We may never have made it into the upper echelon, but we were nationally competitive," Purzycki said. "My stance was, we were this close from being where we want. But I realize that I was the only one I guess that had that perception."

Purzycki's most successful season was 1987 when James Madison posted its best-ever record (9-3), lost in the opening round of the Division I-AA playoffs to Marshall and was ranked in the top 20 for nine straight weeks.

Before succeeding Challace McMillin in 1985, Purzycki was 21-21 at Delaware State.