Walsh To Lead Aurora Football Program
Courtesy of Aurora University
AURORA, Ill. -- Aurora University, an NCAA Division III institution, has named Mark Walsh as head coach of the Spartan football program. Walsh will continue serving in his capacity as Director of Athletics.
Walsh takes over a Spartan football program that was 3-7 overall in 2011 and went 2-5 in the Northern Athletics Conference.
"I am excited about the opportunity and for the future of Aurora University football. I have strong ties and an affinity for the program as restarting the program was the reason I came to Aurora," said Walsh. "I am also flattered that I was considered for such an opportunity. I want our current players and alumni to know that I will do all I can to provide the direction and leadership that is required to help the program realize its potential."
Walsh returned to his alma mater in the summer of 1986. The challenges were to help build a football program that had been discontinued in 1952, and assist the baseball program in stepping onto the national stage by making the NCAA tournament for the first time. Four years later, the football program had improved from 1-4 in 1986 to 7-2 and 8-1 in 1988 and 1989. The baseball team had gone 109-40 and made the NCAA tournament in three of the four years.
Walsh coached football at AU until 1996 as the defensive secondary coach and special teams' coordinator. During the 1988 and 1989 seasons, the AU secondary led the nation in interceptions with 30 picks in 1988 and 29 in 1989, for a total of 59 interceptions in 18 games during the two-year period. The Spartan special teams were nationally ranked in a number of years in blocked kicks, fewest net punt return yards yielded, and average punt and kickoff return yard average. During his 11 years as a football coach at AU, Walsh coached 13 players who received various All-American recognition. In 1992, the Spartans finished the regular season with a 9-0 mark and became the first Chicagoland DIII team to make the NCAA playoffs.
In 1992, Walsh became the Head Baseball Coach at AU. During the next 10 seasons, the Spartans fashioned a 320-85 record with nine NCAA tournament appearances, and two trips to the NCAA DIII World Series. The .790 winning percentage placed Walsh second in all NCAA baseball levels at the time he stepped away in 2002. During his 16 seasons with Aurora baseball, the Spartans posted a 486-145 record with 15 conference championships in 16 years. The Spartans advanced to NCAA post-season play in 14 of the 16 years, produced 17 All-Americans and had five players drafted by Major League teams. Between football and baseball, Walsh has coached in 63 NCAA tournament games.
In 1994, Walsh assumed the position of Associate Director of Athletics for Operations. In 1998, he was named the Director of Athletic at Aurora University. Under Walsh's leadership, Aurora has initiated new sports 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 Director of Athletics, AU teams have won 73 conference championships and participated in 44 NCAA tournaments.
Walsh has served on NCAA Regional Selection Committee for baseball, the DIII Baseball All- American Committee, the NCAA DIII World Series Games Committee and the NCAA Strategic Alliance Grant Committee. Walsh also served as the Commissioner of the Illini-Badger Football Conference for 10 years from 1998 to 2007.