USD begins search for new football coach by David Lias The University of South Dakota has launched a search for a new head football coach.
John Austin won't be returning the DakotaDome gridiron, according to a press release issued Monday, Nov. 17 by interim Athletic Director Greg Redlin.
Austin was relieved of his coaching duties, effective immediately Monday. The remainder of Austin's and his assistant coaches' contracts will be honored through June 30, 2004, according to Redlin, but will not be renewed.
The search process will move quickly, Redlin added.
"After closely reviewing the football program, I have concluded that it is time for new leadership," Redlin said in a release issued to the media Monday afternoon. "John Austin has worked tremendously hard over the last five years, running a well-organized and disciplined program. However, at The University of South Dakota, we have high expectations. Those expectations were not being met in our football program."
Redlin told the Plain Talk later Monday that he is slowly transitioning out his role as interim athletic director.
On Nov. 4, USD officials announced the hiring of Joel Nielsen as the university's new athletic director. He begins his duties at the DakotaDome in December.
"I'm slowly transitioning out of this," Redlin said, "but I'll certainly help with the administrative side in putting the details together here over the next couple of weeks before Joel Nielsen arrives.
"Once he is here, I'll hand over the reigns over to him," he said.
USD officials are putting together a "tentative list of some good football minds," Redlin said, who will be asked to serve on a committee to search for Austin's replacement.
"We haven't really gotten anything settled in that regard," he said. "As soon as we do, though, we'll begin working with them in identifying prospects for the job."
Austin, who was appointed in January 1999, just completed his fifth year as head coach. The Coyotes compiled a 22-32 record during his time as head coach, including a 14-27 mark in the North Central Conference.
"I am very appreciative of all the wonderful faculty and support staff that have been so helpful," Austin stated in Monday's news release. "I'd like to give special thanks to our admissions, financial aid and the faculty, who helped me in recruiting. I would also like to thank the many past players who have donated financially to help the football program. Finally, I would like to thank the players and their parents who I have had the opportunity to coach. Helping these young men grow individually, and as students, has been truly rewarding.
"This program has come a long way since I arrived in 1999," Austin added. "In the past four years, I have had four players move on and contribute in the NFL (Jamel White, Josh Burr, Josh Stamer and Filip Filipovic). The football program is in excellent shape with the returning players. I believe this group will compete for a conference championship and a spot in the national playoffs in the near future."
This season, South Dakota recorded a 5-6 mark and a 2-5 record in the NCC (sixth place). A year ago, USD finished 3-8 overall and 2-6 (eighth) in league play.
In his first three seasons, Austin had records of 4-7 (3-6, sixth) in 1999; 8-3 (6-3, third) in 2000; and 2-8 (1-7, ninth) in 2001.
Redlin told the Plain Talk that the process for finding a new head football coach likely will be at an accelerated pace, when compared to the process taken to locate, interview and hire a new athletic director.
"I would hope that we get this appointment done in the next several weeks," he said, "but we'll have to see how it unfolds.
"We will certainly do what we need to do in terms of equal employment opportunity and go through the correct advertising procedures," Redlin said, "but we're going to move much, much more expeditiously than the typical search does or even the athletic director search did."
This is a critical time for the USD football program, he said.
"Our recruiting starts now, and over the next three months, it's a very critical time period so we want to get new leadership in," Redlin said. "Frankly, it's not an easy sell if you don't have a head coach here, so we need to get a head coach in and have him begin to meet with (player) prospects as they're identified and as they visit the university."
Strong recruitment abilities will be just one of several qualities the university will be seeking in its new head football coach.
"We're really looking for someone with good, strong core values, someone with leadership abilities, someone who is a good manager, and someone who has a proven record, Redlin said.
The applicants' win/loss records will receive careful consideration during the search process.
"The win/loss record is very important," Redlin said. "We would expect that the past would be an indication of the future, so we want to see that record of success."
The new coach also must have the ability to develop and maintain an assistant coaching staff.
All of that will, hopefully, lead to a stronger football program at USD, he said.
"It is a concern, and winning makes all the difference," Redlin said. "We should be competing for NCC championships on a more regular basis, and that's what our goal is."
Before coming to USD, Austin spent nine years at Iowa, serving as the Hawkeyes' defensive line coach, recruiting coordinator and assistant offensive line coach. During his playing days at South Dakota, he was an honorable mention All-NCC selection in 1979 and served as USD's team captain. Austin, a native of Watertown, is a 1980 graduate of USD.
Redlin said the current assistant coaching staff will have the opportunity to apply and interview with the new football coach.