United States Sports Academy alumnus Chad Lunsford, who served on the staff that led Auburn University to the 2010 BCS National Championship in football, has been promoted to head football coach at Georgia Southern University (GSU) in Statesboro, Ga.
Lunsford was named the Eagles’ head coach after serving in an interim role since October, when he was promoted from assistant head coach. Lunsford earned his Master of Sports Science degree in sports management from the Academy in 2002 and his bachelor’s degree in biology from Georgia College in Milledgeville, Ga. GSU is a Football Bowl Subdivision team that competes in the Sun Belt Conference.
“Being able to get my master’s degree in sports management at the United States Sports Academy – with the administrative and operations side – allowed me to learn about the business side of sports and how to manage certain situations,” Lunsford said.
“It is something I rely on heavily, especially now as a head coach.
“I got my bachelor’s degree in biology, but my master’s degree at the Academy, with an emphasis on sports, ended up being something that was more practical to what I do now.”
Lunsford earned his degree online as he was serving as tight ends coach at Appalachian State University during the 2001 and 2002 seasons. He coached at Georgia Military College, Appalachian State and Georgia Southern before becoming scouting director at Auburn in 2009.
Lunsford spent four seasons at Auburn under former head coach Gene Chizik, as director of scouting and later director of player personnel. At Auburn, Lunsford assisted with the day-to-day operations of Auburn football, with an emphasis on recruiting, organizing and prospect evaluation as the Tigers won the 2010 BCS National Championship.
Lunsford, 40, has been involved in 11 post-season bowls or playoffs, including Auburn’s 2010 National Championship victory over Oregon in the Fiesta Bowl.
The Elberton, Ga., native returned to GSU in 2013. The 2017 season was Lunsford’s tenth season overall at GSU. He has worn many hats in his time with the Eagles, working with wide receivers, tight ends, special teams and as assistant head coach. He has also served as the team’s recruiting coordinator, helping the Eagles sign classes that finished near the top of the Sun Belt Conference in 2014 and 2016.
“Georgia Southern is a very special place to me and to my family,” Lunsford said. “We have spent a good deal of time here and invested in the place. We’ve grown roots here. It is a dream come true for me and I am looking forward to this next moment in our lives and taking advantage of this opportunity.”
After Lunsford was promoted to interim head coach mid-season, the Eagles defeated the University of South Alabama 52-0 and the University Louisiana-Lafayette 34-24, which helped prompt Georgia Southern to offer him the job full time.
“The search committee went through an extensive process and evaluated a number of candidates nationwide,” GSU Athletic Director Tom Kleinlein said. “In the end, it was hard to ignore the progress the team has made under Coach Lunsford both on and off the field.
“On behalf of the search committee, we’re thrilled to announce Chad Lunsford as our full-time head coach and look forward to seeing where he will take his program.”
“We started playing more disciplined football and cleaner football,” Lunsford said. “We had to change the feel around here. We made sure we had more positive energy and positive vibes as we went out to work. That started to show. The guys have bought in.
“I enjoy having relationships with players, the fan base, with the other coaches and the support staff,” Lunsford said. “I love everybody involved with it. Everyone has a role to play and they are important. I think it is very important as a coach that I make everyone feel important. Everyone is important, because what everyone does has a significant impact on the results we see.”
In 2016, Lunsford was named a Broyles Award nominee, given to the nation’s top assistant coach, for his work as the team’s special teams coordinator.