Aaron Whitehead announced Monday morning that he's stepping down as East High School's head football coach to take a graduate assistant position in the student athlete academic center at BYU.

Whitehead said academics are extremely important in his family, and this was a great opportunity to pursue his masters degree and see how things work at the Division I level.

"It was extremely tough, in many ways it was heart-wrenching to say goodbye to the kids. They will continue to do great things," said Whitehead, who was president of the Utah High School Football Coaches Association last year. "East is a great place to coach, everything is in line. There are great athletes, the administrators, faculty and staff are supportive and then the community is supportive as well."

Whitehead said he was contacted about the position about a month ago, and he'll work exclusively with BYU's football program.

A graduate of Skyline High School, Whitehead spent five years at East High School compiling a 39-21 record, including several appearances in the 4A semifinals at Rice-Eccles Stadium.

Whitehead indicated that with the season about a month away, East High's administrators will likely promote an assistant coach from within to serve as interim coach.