Wilkerson is coaching in Division III for the first
Dartmouth athletics photo
The University of Chicago announced on Tuesday that Chris Wilkerson has been appointed to the position of head football coach. He replaces Dick Maloney, who announced his retirement in June 2013 after 19 years.
Wilkerson enters his 19th year as a collegiate football coach and arrives at UChicago from Dartmouth. He has served on Dartmouth’s coaching staff since 2005 and was named associate head coach in 2007. During his tenure at Dartmouth, Wilkerson's broad range of responsibilities included defensive coordinator, special teams coordinator, running backs coach, linebackers coach and recruiting coordinator.
"I am thrilled to welcome Chris and his family to UChicago," said athletic director Erin McDermott. "Chris brings depth and breadth in experience as a successful player and coach, and a contagious energy that leaves an impression on everyone he meets. He embodies our values and is a true believer in the holistic education model. I am excited for the team, the campus community and the future of Maroon football, with Chris as our head coach."
"My family and I are extremely humbled, honored and excited to be joining the UChicago family and look forward to leading our football program into the future," Wilkerson said. "We understand the academic accomplishments of legions of UChicago football alumni as well as the storied tradition of Maroon football. Our staff will work tirelessly, thoughtfully and with passion to help our student-athletes reach their fullest potential. We are committed to their development as young people and will strive for that unique balance of academic distinction, social engagement and championship athletic performance. UChicago represents excellence in academics and athletics and I want to thank vice president (Karen) Coleman, athletic director Erin McDermott and all those involved in the search process for this amazing opportunity and inviting us into their family."
Dartmouth's special teams and running backs excelled in recent years under Wilkerson's tutelage. The team was ranked in the top 10 nationally in a number of categories, including punt return average, blocked kicks, individual rushing average and fewest fumbles lost. His stand-out players featured a pair of All-Americans – Dartmouth's all-time leading rusher Nick Schweiger and punt returner Shawn Abuhoff. As the defensive coordinator from 2005-08, Wilkerson's highlights included a pass defense that ranked 14th in the country in his debut season.
Prior to his time at Dartmouth, Wilkerson coached the defense and special teams at San Jose State from 2002-04. In 2003, he was a nominee for the Broyles Award, given annually to the nation's top assistant coach.
Wilkerson began his coaching career at his alma mater, Eastern Illinois, serving from 1995-2001. He led the special teams unit all seven years and also had stints as defensive coordinator, linebackers coach and defensive line coach. The Panthers reached the NCAA Division I-AA playoffs four times and won a pair of conference championships during his tenure. Wilkerson's defenses and special teams were regularly ranked in the national top 20 in numerous categories.
Wilkerson earned his bachelor's degree in physical education from Eastern Illinois. Chris and his wife, Sharna, have three children – Isabella, Peyton and Charlotte.