|Aurora athletics photo|
Aurora announced today that Rick Ponx has been named its new head football coach. Ponx will join the university immediately and begin to assemble his coaching staff.
Ponx has held several coaching and coordinator positions at prominent Division III programs over the past two decades, including roles at Ohio Northern and North Central. He also served as a consultant in 2013 for the Illinois High School Association Class 8A state champion Naperville Central High School.
Ponx succeeds Mark Walsh, who retired after the 2013 season in which the Spartans posted a 3-7 overall record and were 2-4 in the Northern Athletics Collegiate Conference. Walsh's Spartan football program went 8-12 overall in his two seasons and 6-7 in the NACC.
"I am excited to have Rick Ponx join the AU family and lead our football program," said Aurora athletic director Jim Hamad. "It quickly became apparent that Rick embodies the characteristics we were looking for in our ideal candidate. We're confident that under his leadership Spartan football will consistently perform at a high level and compete for conference championships."
"I'm thrilled to begin this journey," Ponx said. "I look forward to becoming part of the Aurora University community, working for our dynamic and energetic athletic director Jim Hamad, spending time with the young men we have in the program, enjoying a family atmosphere with the staff, being part of a developing team and achieving the vision President Sherrick has for our athletic program."
Most recently at North Central, Ponx served as the assistant head coach (2007-2012), defensive coordinator (2010-2012), offensive line coach (2005-2009) and defensive backs coach (2004, 2010-2012). He was the 2012 American Football Coaches Association Assistant Coach of the Year finalist, and coached top 10 nationally ranked defenses in 2010, 2011 and 2012. In his nine seasons at North Central, the team made the NCAA Division III playoffs seven times with an 84-20 record, including a 31-6 record while he was defensive coordinator.
From 1988 to 2003, Ponx served in a variety of coaching roles at Ohio Northern, including five seasons as the offensive coordinator (1996-2000) and three seasons as the defensive coordinator (2001-2003). In his time at ONU, Ponx helped turn the program into a top 10 nationally ranked program with back-to-back NCAA Division III playoff appearances in 1999 and 2000.
Ponx is a member of the AFCA and Football Coaches Professional Growth Association. He has spoken at numerous camps and clinics, including the Frank Glazier Clinic in 2011 (Chicago) and 2013 (Indianapolis).
Ponx received a bachelor's degree from Elmhurst and a master's degree from Bowling Green State.
The university granted Walsh the status of athletic director emeritus in recognition of his distinguished career in 2012. He will remain as a valued member of the AU community serving in other roles on campus.
"Mark Walsh has been a mainstay of the athletic department and university," said Hamad. "His dedication and determination played a significant part in the accomplishments of AU athletics over the past quarter century. I'm fortunate to have stepped in to lead a successful athletics department where a standard of excellence already existed."
Under Walsh's leadership as athletic director, Aurora initiated new athletic teams in men's and women's cross country, men's and women's indoor and outdoor track and field, women's golf, and men's and women's lacrosse. During his tenure as athletic director, AU teams won 73 conference championships and participated in 44 NCAA tournaments.