UNIVERSITY CENTER – Saginaw Valley State University announced that football head coach Jim Collins is leaving the program after serving as the head coach for 11 seasons. Collins is stepping away from the program for a position on the football staff of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, an NCAA Division I program.
"I would like to thank the entire SVSU community for the opportunity and support provided to me to lead the football program over the last 11 years," Collins said. "A special thanks to our administration: President Don Bachand, Jim Muladore, executive vice president, and athletic administrators John Decker and Angela Pohl for believing in the vision and purpose of our football program."
"It has been a tremendous journey for myself and my family. For 11 years our lives were fully engrossed in Cardinal Football. I consider myself extremely fortunate to have been able to serve our assistant coaches, alumni, friends of the program, and most importantly the outstanding student-athletes that have represented SVSU in such a tremendous way on the field and in the classroom. I am extremely appreciative of all the hard work and sacrifices that have been made by so many, and I will miss the day to day interaction with the people I have grown so close to."
Collins informed the SVSU football team of his decision on Monday, Feb. 25. Defensive coordinator Adam Gonzaga has been appointed interim head coach.
"This was a difficult decision for me and my family," Collins said, "but I feel called to play a role in a program that develops the young men who will be serving our country. I am extremely enthusiastic and honored to have been offered the opportunity to join the football staff at Army West Point. The amazing history, tradition, and excellence of The United States Military Academy is well documented and the level of success that Head Coach Jeff Monken, his staff, and the players have been able to accomplish has been awesome. I am eager to get started and make an impact there."
Collins took over the reins of the Cardinal football program in 2008, beginning a stretch of 11 years that matches George Ihler's 11 seasons as the most by an SVSU head football coach. He compiled an overall record of 65-56 with a 58-49 mark in Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) play. Saginaw Valley advanced to three NCAA Division II Playoff appearances under Collins' direction, competing in the national tournament in the 2009, 2011 and 2013 campaigns. Saginaw Valley won three straight GLIAC North Division championships, covering a span over the 2011-2013 seasons. In 2018, the Cardinals finished 8-3 overall and 5-3 in the GLIAC.
"I am excited for the future of Cardinal Football and confident that I am leaving the football program in a very good place," Collins said. "The program is made up of high character individuals who show up every day, work hard, compete, display an awesome amount of grit, and share a special bond with each other. I am extremely proud of all of them."
There were 57 players who earned All-GLIAC First Team or All-GLIAC Second Team honors over the past 11 seasons under Collins' direction, including one GLIAC Player of the Year, one Freshman of the Year, two Defensive Backs of the Year and a two-time Offensive Back of the Year. Six players were named All-Americans during Collins' tenure as head coach, as well.
"I would like to thank Coach Collins for his leadership of our football program for the past 11 years and I wish him well in his new opportunity," said John Decker, SVSU director of Athletics. "The student-athletes in our football program have performed well in the classroom and on the field, and we expect that to continue. We have a strong team returning. We will conduct a national search to find the next head coach of Cardinal football and that process will begin immediately."