Nick Hill named interim SIU head football coach - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Nick Hill named interim SIU head football coach

Nick Hill (Source: SIU) Nick Hill (Source: SIU)
File photo of Dale Lennon from 2007. (Source: SIU) File photo of Dale Lennon from 2007. (Source: SIU)

Current SIU Salukis co-offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Nick Hill will serve as the interim head football coach after Dale Lennon was fired on Nov. 30.

SIU Director of Athletics Tommy Bell made the announcement about Lennon on Monday, Nov. 30. He says the dismissal came following a comprehensive review of the football program.

Bell announced made the announcement about Hill on Tuesday.

Hill spent six season in professional football. He is a former quarterback at SIU. He has been a coach at SIU since 2014. 

Bell says former SIU head coach Jerry Kill and former SIU quarterback Joel Sambursky will serve on the search committee.

Bell says they hope to finish the search for the new head coach before Christmas.

They've had 40 inquiries over the past 24 hours about the head football coaching position. Bell says the sports facilities will be a big draw.Lennon took over the program after Jerry Kill left for Northern Illinois after the 2007 season.

"On behalf of the university, I would like to thank Coach Lennon and his staff for their service to our institution," Bell said. "Dale and his staff directed the program with class and integrity. After a great deal of thought and consultation, I determined it was time for a change in the leadership of our football program."

Some people on campus, including people who worked with the coach, alumni and students, say the news of Coach Lennon’s dismissal came as a shock and had mixed reactions.

SIUC Alumni from Oak Park, Ill. and the Class of 1990, Scott Arnold said the news came as a shock.

“I’m kind of surprised… I thought he was a good coach," Arnold said.

A Saluki fan and student Evan Williams said he thinks it was time for a change."

“They used to be good back in the mid-2000’s but right now they’re really struggling," Williams said. "So, I don’t know it’s just kind of time for a change I guess.”

SIUC student Phillip Heckel from Carterville, Ill. said he was surprised.

“It came to a big surprise to me. I had no idea.”

Evan Brown, an Masters student at SIUC and former videographer for the SIUC football team said Lennon was a good coach.

“I think sometimes it’s just hard to say if it’s like the player fault or if it’s the coaches fault," Brown said.

According to Bell, under the terms of Lennon's contract, which paid him an annual salary of $220,788, he will receive a $55,000 buyout.

Bell said a search for Lennon's replacement will begin immediately, and he will conduct a press briefing on Tuesday at 3 p.m. to discuss the future of the football program.

Coach Lennon released the following statement:

"It is with deep disappointment and sadness that I leave Southern Illinois University. It has been a privilege to coach this team. I have greatly appreciated the support of so many members of the SIU administration, athletic department, faculty and staff, alumni and student body. Thank you all for your work with the football program through the years. Thank you to the citizens of Carbondale and the surrounding area for your support of Saluki Football as well.

"I have had the privilege of working with a number of great coaches during my time here, and I want to thank them sincerely for their efforts to coach and lead the young men on our football team. We have all tried to lead with honesty, integrity, and hard work.

"To our Saluki football players, I want to say that it has been an honor to be your coach. I have learned from you, as you have developed as athletes and future leaders. Thank you for doing your best, doing what is right, and giving your all. I have loved being your coach."

Download the KFVS News app: iPhone | Android

Copyright 2015 KFVS. All rights reserved.

Powered by Frankly