Carson-Newman's Sparks steps down with 338 career wins

In this Saturday, Nov. 12, 2016, photo provided by Carson-Newman University, head football coach Ken Sparks, right, talks to an assistant coach during Sparks' final NCAA college football game against Tusculum College in Greeneville, Tenn. Carson-Newman lost 31-30 in the final game for Sparks, who is ending a 37-season career in which he won 338 games to rank fifth on the NCAA's all-time list. (Adam Greene/Carson-Newman University via AP)
Adam Greene/AP

JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. (AP) Carson-Newman coach Ken Sparks has retired, ending a 37-season career in which he won 338 games to rank fifth on the NCAA's all-time list.

The only coaches with more career wins are John Gagliardi (489), Joe Paterno (409), Eddie Robinson (408) and Bobby Bowden (377). Sparks went 338-99-2 and had the most wins of any active coach.

Sparks, 72, had continued coaching even after announcing in 2012 that he had cancer.

Before Carson-Newman entered the NCAA ranks in 1993, Sparks led the Eagles to five NAIA national championships – in 1983, 1984, 1986, 1988 and 1989. Carson-Newman was an NAIA runner-up in 1987 and lost in the NCAA Division II championship game in 1996, 1998 and 1999.

Carson-Newman went 4-7 this year, only the second losing season in Sparks' career.

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