Maryville coach Mike Rader has resigned to become a position coach on Carl Torbush's new NCAA Division I program at East Tennessee State, his alma mater.
Kandis Schram, Maryville College athletics director, made the announcement to campus on Wednesday, following a noon meeting of the football team. Rader's teams went 21-10 in three seasons.
"We are extremely sad to lose Mike, but we wish him the best in this next chapter of his career," Schram said. "We hired him to right the ship. He's done that for us – and more – and we will be forever grateful."
Rader, a 2002 graduate of East Tennessee State, said he is excited to return home after turning around the Fighting Scots football program.
"I just couldn't pass on the opportunity for me and my family to go home and be part of the rebuilding of a program that I once belonged to," Rader explained on Wednesday, adding that the decision to leave Maryville was a tough one.
"Having the opportunity to build a culture here and to work with phenomenal men within a great community that really embraced me and my family is something that I will never forget," he said. "There will always be a piece of me here, and I will never forget this place.
"I want to thank everybody for the love and support that they have given us over the last three years. Coach Schram and this administration blessed me with the opportunity to be a head coach at a young age, and I can never thank them enough. All the other coaches at MC embraced me and helped me grow within this coaching profession."
Under his leadership, the Fighting Scots accomplished additional historic accolades in 2013. MC earned their first eight-win season since the 1978 campaign and only the fourth eight-win season in school history. Their 8-3 overall mark and 6-1 league record earned back-to-back USA South co-championships, allowing Maryville's first ever trip to the NCAA Division III playoffs as the league's automatic bid. For his efforts, Rader was named the 2013 USA South Coach of the Year.
This past fall, he led MC to a 7-3 overall record while going 6-2 within league challenges. His Scots finished third in the conference standings with an offense that paced the league in four different rushing categories and ranked 10th nationally in rushing yards per game.
Collectively, Rader and his staff developed 30 All-USA South performers, over 50 USA South All-Academic honorees, six All-South Region standouts and three All-Americans. Rader's 2014 unit was honored with the USA South All-Sportsmanship Award.
With recruiting still underway and spring practices on the horizon, she said filling the position quickly is critical – as is filling it with the right person.
"We are committed to a winning football program and building on Mike's success, and I'm not just talking about winning records," she said. "He nurtured young men who cared about their education, their school and their teammates. During his time here, the team's collective GPA and retention improved. He energized our alumni ranks and built a large fan base, which sparked financial support of the program."
Later this month, the College will open a renovated weight room with new equipment purchased by donations from alumni, parents and friends.
"That's the kind of success we want to continue."
"The program is in a phenomenal spot," he said. "With the talent level and coaches that are here, this program will not miss a beat."
The campus community could be the biggest draw of all, he speculated.
"I was most impressed by – and maybe did not appreciate it until I lived it for three years – how this place really is a family," he said. "Everyone really supports one another, and because of the kind of community Maryville College is, this place changes lives. I got to witness that for three years.
"I did not know the power of that when I walked through the door."