After financial struggles, downgraded ratings and an SEC probe, Joseph Nacchio has resigned his post as Qwest Communications International Inc.'s head honcho.

Although Qwest deems Nacchio's resignation as voluntary, it is has been reported that the board of directors nudged him out. Nacchio has been in the hotseat for months now. The company's stock was downgraded to below investment-grade in May. The SEC recently launched an investigation into some of the company's accounting practices. And, Qwest's debt has ballooned to a point where the company has been looking to shed some assets.

Former Tellabs Inc. chief executive Richard Notebaert has been named as Nacchio's successor. Nacchio will remain on board as a consultant for up to two years.

Amid Qwest's struggles, Nacchio was paid well. Qwest has said it paid him more than $27 million last year. Nacchio has been criticized for exercising stock options and selling Qwest shares. Since taking over Qwest, he has cashed out more than $300 million. Notebaert's appointment is designed to boost investor confidence in the company. As of 1:07 p.m. EDT, Qwest shares had gained 81 cents, or 19.5 percent, to trade at $4.96.