Illinois defensive coordinator Hardy Nickerson has resigned from his post due to health concerns.

Monday morning, head coach Lovie Smith and Nickerson released statements on the decision to leave the program. The defensive coordinator cited “health-related circumstances” as the reason behind his decision to step away.

“Hardy informed me yesterday that he felt it was in the program’s best interest to leave our staff,” Smith said. “I’ve known and coached with Hardy for many years, and know what an outstanding person he is. We are all disappointed in the performance of our defense this season, and we all bear responsibility for that. I wish Hardy nothing but the best as he moves forward with his career.”

Nickerson’s decision comes after Illinois surrendered 712 yards in a 63-33 loss to Maryland. Illinois ranks dead last in the B1G in points allowed this season, giving up 37.6 points per game average.

In B1G play, the Illini are allowing 47.6 points per game and have surrendered totals of 46, 49 and 63 in games against Purdue, Wisconsin and Maryland, respectively.

“When I was contacted about being offered this job back in 2016, I was excited for the opportunity to come in and coordinate and run Illinois’ defense,” Nickerson said. “I had every intention of helping put our defensive student-athletes in the best possible position to win, and, ultimately, to make the University of Illinois community and fans proud of our results. Due to health-related circumstances beyond my control I must step away at this time.”

Nickerson became Illinois defensive coordinator in 2016, but the Illini haven’t enjoyed much success on that side of the ball. In three seasons, Illinois has not ranked above 11th in the B1G in total defense and scoring defense.

Illinois ranks dead last in both categories this season.

The Illini are 3-5 this season with four games remaining on the schedule.