One day after vowing not to step down as basketball coach at the University of

Kentucky, Eddie Sutton did just that.Saying he didn't want the university "to suffer anymore" from the backlash from rumors about his status in college basketball's winningest program, Sutton stepped down Sunday.

He made his announcement on national television, several hours after informing UK President David Roselle of his decision and just a day after he vowed not to resign.

Sutton, 53, said at a news conference that the constant flow of "vicious" rumors about his position at the university prompted him to resign before too many people were hurt.

"I know how important basketball is to the people of the state, and I've decided for the good of the program, for the fans, for the players and most of all for my family, I should resign at this time," he said.

"I don't want the University of Kentucky to suffer anymore."

Roselle, in a separate news conference, commended Sutton for his action.

"I appreciate Coach Sutton's willingness to put concern for the University of Kentucky basketball program above other considerations," he said in a prepared statement. "Moreover, I regret the turmoil that has led to the announcement of his resignation.

"Eddie has decided to put the good of the program and the institution above his personal interests, and I applaud and I thank him for that."

Sutton said he would encourage his players - including his son, Sean - to stay because the "program is certainly going to need every one of them."

Rumors of Sutton's resignation or possible firing have circulated since last October, when the NCAA announced 18 allegations of wrongdoing against the Wildcats' program.

As late as Saturday, in an interview with CBS-TV, Sutton had said he would not quit.

On Sunday, he said his resignation was not an admission of guilt.

"Not at all. I'm innocent," said Sutton, who is not named in any of the allegations."

Roselle said the question of Sutton's resignation had come up in a meeting last Wednesday at the president's residence.

"We talked about it (resignation) - what was good for the program," Roselle said at a separate news conference.

The school is expected to go before the NCAA's Committee of Infractions in late April.