NAU, longtime football coach Jerome Souers to part ways

Souers holds all-time Big Sky Conference wins mark at 112

Northern Arizona head coach Jerome Souers before an NCAA college football game against Arizona on Saturday, Sept. 19, 2015, in Tucson. (Rick Scuteri/AP, File)

Northern Arizona head coach Jerome Souers before an NCAA college football game against Arizona on Saturday, Sept. 19, 2015, in Tucson. (Rick Scuteri/AP, File)

by Brian M. Bergner Jr.

Northern Arizona University vice president for intercollegiate athletics Lisa Campos officially announced Monday that Jerome Souers will no longer be the head football coach after the 2017 season.

Currently in his 20th season leading the Lumberjacks, Souers holds many Big Sky Conference records including wins (112), conference wins (76) and number of years as head coach.

"I'd like to take this time to thank the coaches and players in the NAU football family now as well as all of those who've shared this journey with me the past 20 years," Souers said in a statement released to the media Monday at the same time the press conference was held at the NAU Walkup Skydome.

NAU (0-2, 0-0 Big Sky) opened the season with a 62-24 loss at Arizona in Tucson on Sept. 2, then suffered a 38-20 loss at the hands of Western Illinois in Flagstaff on Saturday.

Reportedly, Campos said the decision was not made based on the outcome of the last two games, but to celebrate Souers' longtime commitment to NAU football.

"Rather than wait until the end of the season, we want to celebrate Jerome's 20 years of service with NAU," Campos said in a statement. "We want our university, Flagstaff, and Big Sky communities to have the opportunity to thank him, and wish him the best in the next chapter of his life. I want to thank Jerome for his service to NAU and the football program."

Souers has coached NAU to a 112-105 record since taking over in 1998, and is currently tied for the seventh-longest tenured coach in the FCS. Souers has coached 39 different players to All-American honors and 177 to all-conference honors.

The Lumberjacks made appearances in NCAA I-AA/FCS playoff games in 2001, 2003 and 2013. NAU won the Big Sky title in 2003, and Souers was a finalist for the Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year that season. He won Big Sky Coach of the Year in 1999.

Souers and the NAU football program still strive to win a Big Sky title this season, he said.

"I can assure you that our coaching staff and all the members of this special team will continue to persevere and to compete for the Big Sky Conference championship."

Brian M. Bergner Jr. is associate sports editor and a columnist for The Daily Courier. Follow him on Twitter, Instagram and SoundCloud at @SportsWriter52, or on Facebook at @SportsAboveTheFold. Reach him at bbergner@prescottaz.com or 928-445-3333, ext. 1106.