Former Minnesota Duluth football coach Bob Nielson was introduced Wednesday as the new head coach at Western Illinois University in Macomb.
Nielson, who also served as UMD's athletic director, coached at Minnesota Duluth for 10 seasons and has a career record of 170-59-1 in 20 seasons of coaching, 100-26 at UMD. Two seasons ago he led the Bulldogs to a 15-0 record and second NCAA Division II championship. They also won the title in 2008.
"This is a great opportunity and a great challenge, but great challenge brings with it great opportunity," Nielson said. "I believe that the future of Western Illinois football is bright and that we can accomplish much."
The Leathernecks are an FCS program and part of the Missouri Valley Football Conference, which also includes North Dakota State and South Dakota State.
Nielson replaces Mark Hendrickson, who was fired after a 3-8 season (1-7 in the MVC) and inherits a program that hasn't reached the postseason in nine years.
"There have been situations where I've taken over programs that needed a little push forward," he said. "That part of the situation here didn't scare me, as a matter of fact, it excited me about the potential here."
As UMD athletic director, Bulldogs sports teams won five national championships and 18 conference titles.
"We hate to lose Bob, but understand this is a well-deserved opportunity for him to coach at the Division I level," said UMD Chancellor Lendley Black.
St. Catherine removed the interim tag from basketball coach Sean Pinkerton, making him the program's permanent head coach.