JU Signs Football Coach Steve Gilbert To 3-Year Extension

Jan. 31, 2001

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Jacksonville University head football coach Steve Gilbert has signed a three-year contract extension to remain the Dolphins' head coach through the 2003 season, interim director of athletics Hugh Durham announced today. Gilbert has literally built the four-year-old program from the ground up after being named head coach in March of 1997.

JU began play in the 1998 season and has posted a 10-19 record at the NCAA Division I-AA non-scholarship level. However, the Dolphins are 8-7 against similar non-scholarship programs and 2-3 against schools with partial scholarships. The 43-year-old Gilbert led the Dolphins to a 3-8 record in 2000, but JU's schedule featured eight schools with either partial or full scholarships.

JU begins play in the Pioneer Football League (PFL) in 2001, a conference of NCAA I-AA non-scholarship teams that stretches from coast to coast. The league is expanding to nine teams with Austin Peay (Tenn.), Davidson (N.C.), Jacksonville and Morehead State (Ky.) joining current PFL members Butler (Ind.), Dayton (Ohio), Drake (Iowa), San Diego (Calif.) and Valparaiso (Ind.).

"I am pleased to have the backing of President Harlow and Coach Durham," said Gilbert, who was named the 1996 NCAA Division III Coach of the Year after leading Ursinus (Pa.) College to the Division III Playoffs for the first time ever. "It is refreshing to know that the administration has confidence in our coaching staff to complete our goals of making this program one of the best at the NCAA Division I-AA non-scholarship level. This also comes at a good time for us because we are entering our most crucial recruiting period and preparing the returnees for spring practice."

"It was an easy decision to extend Steve's contract because he has run the football program with class," said Durham. "We look forward to the excitement ahead of challenging for our first PFL championship, and I have confidence that Steve and his program will continue to make positive contributions to Jacksonville University. Starting a program from scratch is a difficult challenge, and our record indicates that we have been extremely competitive against football programs of similar philosophy."

Gilbert left Ursinus after nine seasons in which he became the all-time winningest coach in the 104-year history of the school with 41 wins. He has also coached at Penn, San Diego, Washington University (Mo.) and Upsala (N.J.). Just as important, Gilbert and his teams have been active in community service projects on a regular basis. Gilbert has also been invited to participate in the NCAA YES (Youth Education Through Sports) clinics on three occasions.

The Dolphins begin spring practice on March 19 as they prepare for their fourth season.