Western Kentucky University Head Football Coach David Elson’s contract has been recommended for a four-year extension, Director of Athletics Dr. Camden Wood Selig announced today. Selig made the recommendation to WKU President Dr. Gary Ransdell who agreed to take it to the Board of Regents at their meeting on January 30, 2009. Elson’s contract, which previously ran through the 2012 season, would now run through the 2016 season if the recommendation is approved.
“I have total confidence in David Elson and his ability to lead our football program to new heights at the Football Bowl Subdivision level,” Selig said. “We want to win, we expect to win, and I am confident that we will win at this level. However, it is not appropriate to evaluate our program based solely on wins and losses at this stage of our transition. We must continue to develop in a manner that increases the likelihood of sustained success, and this past season was historic and not without achievements. While playing the most difficult schedule in the school’s history, we had our second-highest attendance total ever while completing first-class renovations to Houchens Industries – L.T. Smith Stadium. As we move forward and continue to recruit more student-athletes at the I-A level, it is vital that the person leading the football program be a visionary who understands and embraces the awaiting challenges. Based on David’s previous success at WKU coupled with his passion, dedication and loyalty to our university, I have no doubt we have the perfect person leading the charge for our football program.”
Elson has served as WKU head coach for the last six seasons, compiling a 39-32 mark. He previously served as a WKU assistant coach for seven seasons and was defensive coordinator for the Hilltoppers’ 2002 I-AA National Championship team, the school’s only team national title in any sport. In Elson’s 13 total years at WKU, the Hilltoppers have won 64.1 percent of their games (100-56) while also emphasizing academics. WKU’s 945 multi-year APR in football through 2006-2007, the most recent data available, was higher than every Sun Belt member and is 14 points higher than the NCAA average in the sport.
“I appreciate the commitment of Dr. Ransdell and Dr. Selig and the confidence they have shown me,” Elson said. “We know where we were, where we are and the challenges we face to get to where we want to be. We will get there sooner than some think, but we need to do everything the right way and not cut any corners. Our approach is to do it once and do it right. No one is more disappointed in our record this past season than I am, but I see progress and improvement in many areas outside of wins and losses. I believe in this program more than ever, and I have no doubt we will reach our goals of conference championships and bowl appearances.”
WKU is one of only 120 institutions competing at the 1-A level in football and will be eligible for a bowl berth and the Sun Belt Conference championship in 2009. NCAA legislation has capped future I-A additions, and football membership will remain at the exclusive 120 mark until at least 2013. Future home football opponents include teams from the Big Ten (Indiana), Big East (South Florida), and Big 12 (Iowa State) along with unique service academy match ups with Army and Navy.
Elson was named head coach on March 5, 2003. He replaced Jack Harbaugh, who resigned after 14 years at the helm of the program. He was the longest-tenured assistant on Harbaugh’s staff, working seven years on the Hill with the team’s defensive backs, the last two as defensive coordinator. At the time of his hiring, Elson was the youngest head coach in Division I football. Prior to the school’s announcement in November 2006 that it would move up to the NCAA I-A/FBS division, the Toppers advanced to the NCAA I-AA playoffs on six occasions — including a string of five straight appearances from 2000-04.