Wheaton head coach Mike Swider has announced his retirement.
Swider played his college ball at Wheaton before embarking on a 39-year journey with the program. He took over the program as head coach back in 1996 and has spent the past 24 seasons leading the Thunder.
As the season started, there were whispers in small college football circles that this could be Swider's last season, but he was very conscious about waiting to announce it until after their season ended.
Here's what Swider shared in the school's release on his decision.
“I have known for a while that this is the right time. However, I decided to wait until now to make the announcement because this entire program is about the whole team and not one person."
“If I had announced this decision before the start of the season, then it becomes about me. I did not want to put this program in a situation where every single game was about me. This season was about our seniors and our whole football team. Now that the season has ended, this is the right time to make this announcement.” Swider concludes, “You know in your heart when it is time. It is very important to me to leave when there are good coaches and players in place, and they are definitely here. The future is extraordinarily bright for Wheaton football.”
Swider's final squad finished the year 12-1, losing to St. John's (D-III - MN) in the national quarterfinals in a very similar ending to the now infamous Egg Bowl incident.
Over the course of the 24 seasons leading the program, Swider collected 209 career wins (14th among active NCAA coaches) and has a career win percentage of just over 80%. He led the Thunder program to nine CCIW titles, and his teams made the D-III playoff 10 times.
A national search for the new leader of the program will begin immediately, and offensive coordinator Jesse Scott will serve as the interim head coach in the meantime.
Wheaton is a perennial power at the small college level, and has churned out a number of high quality coaches over the past several decades, so this opening will have a lot of interested guys go after it.