National Cold Fusion Institute Director Hugo Rossi has resigned, and University of Utah Vice President for Research James J. Brophy has replaced him as interim director.

Rossi was out of town Sunday, but Brophy confirmed the resignation and said it was not unexpected."Hugo had always planned on stepping down," Brophy said. "He thought about waiting until the end of December but decided not to wait."

He said Rossi will likely return to his job as university dean of science, but that decision rests with the academic vice president and Rossi.

Rossi had been named interim director shortly after B. Stanley Pons and Martin Fleischmann made their cold fusion announcement March 23.

The university's cold fusion experiments have struggled for acceptance, and Rossi in September said the institute may close if its scientists did not have any papers to present at a February meeting. He later rescinded that statement and declined further interviews.

Reports later surfaced that Rossi and Pons and Fleischmann were having conflicts on the institute's research program, but Pons disputed that Sunday.

"He had always indicated he would be stepping down as soon as other arrangements were made. He told us months ago," Pons said.