Mike Sanford Jr., who came to Western Kentucky University after stints as offensive coordinator at Notre Dame and Boise State, was dismissed as head coach of the Hilltoppers on Sunday.
Sanford’s team finished the regular season with back-to-back Conference USA victories after it started the season 1-9. The Hilltoppers were 9-16 during his two-year tenure. They lost four games by three points in the 2018 season, including a wild contest at Houchens-Smith Stadium against then one-win Old Dominion on Oct. 20.
WKU Athletic Director Todd Stewart has a press conference scheduled for 5:30 p.m. in the Paul Just Media Center in E.A. Diddle Arena.
The official statement from WKU is below.
Mike Sanford will not return to lead the WKU football program
in 2019, WKU Director of Athletics Todd Stewart announced on Sunday.
A search for his replacement is already underway.
“I would like to thank Mike for his dedication and passion leading our football
program over the last two years,” Stewart said. “His commitment to bettering the
lives of our student-athletes is unquestioned. However, based on a complete review
of the total body of work of our program over the last two years and assessing the
likelihood of meeting our future expectations, I felt it was time that we make a
change in leadership. This was not an easy decision and was not made lightly.”
Sanford, who just completed his second season as WKU’s head coach, came to WKU
following a two-year stint as the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at
Notre Dame. He had previously served as an assistant coach on The Hill in 2010.
“As we continue to elevate WKU’s instructional and inquiry missions, the same
expectation for excellence extends to our athletics programs as well,” University
President Dr. Tim Caboni said. “In consulting with Director of Athletics Stewart, I
agree that for us to achieve the success we expect in WKU football, it is time to
make a leadership change. Mike Sanford is a man of character, and we appreciate his
service to our community.”
During his two years leading the program, the Hilltoppers were 9-16 overall and 6-10
in conference play, highlighted by a berth in the 2017 AutoNation Cure Bowl in his
first season. A pair of players were drafted from that squad as linebacker Joel
Iyiegbuniwe went in the fourth round to the Chicago Bears and quarterback Mike White
was taken in the fifth round by the Dallas Cowboys. A third player, tight end Deon
Yelder, received immediate interest as a free agent and is currently with the Kansas