Head Coach Rick Willis


In 18 years as head coach of the Wartburg College football program, Rick Willis has compiled a 155-40 (.795 percent) record and won eight Iowa Conference championships. His 155 wins are the most in program history and 19th-best among active NCAA Division III coaches, while his winning percentage ranks seventh-best in the nation among active NCAA Division III coaches and 14th-best among all NCAA coaches (entering 2017 season).

He has been on the sidelines for eight of the Knights’ 14 Iowa Conference championships and eight of the program’s 11 national playoff appearances. On Oct. 6, 2010, he became the fastest coach to reach 100 wins in Iowa Conference history.

He’s led the only four unbeaten/untied regular season teams in Wartburg history (1999, 2003, 2010, 2014). He has coached 16 athletic and 13 academic All-Americans as well as at least four all-IIAC selections in each season. He was named the IIAC Coach of the Year in 1999, 2010, 2013, and 2014, GTE West Regional Coach of the Year from the American Football Coaches Association in 1999, and d3football.com Regional Coach of the Year in 2014.

Before coming to Waverly, Willis was defensive coordinator and head baseball coach at Wittenberg University in Springfield, Ohio, from 1990 to 1996. His teams finished with a 150-85 record for a winning percentage of .638 which remains the highest in program history with the 1994 squad earning runner-up honors in the Mideast Regional. As an assistant football coach there, he was part of teams that registered a 56-14 record in seven years and won North Coast Athletic Conference titles in 1992 and 1995.

He graduated from Cornell College in Mount Vernon, earning an NCAA postgraduate scholarship in 1988. He earned a master’s degree in athletic administration at the University of Illinois while serving as a graduate assistant with the Illinois football program.

Willis, his wife, Kelly, and their three sons, Tyler ’16, Eric '18, and Ryan, reside in Waverly.