Athletic Director Brady McKillip announced that Graceland University has hired Patrick Ross to lead the Yellowjacket football program. Ross orchestrated one of the best turnarounds in recent college football history during his time at Lindenwood University in St. Louis, Missouri, where he led the school from only seven wins in the previous three years to eleven wins in his first season as head coach and a national championship appearance a few years later. The announcement follows a national search in which Ross quickly emerged as the leading candidate.
“I am thrilled to welcome Coach Ross to the Graceland athletic department, and I look forward to working with him closely,” said McKillip. “Ross’s time at Lindenwood and his familiarity with the Heart of America Conference and our region made him a strong candidate, but it was his approach to creating successful team cultures, both on and off the field, that impressed us the most.”
During his time as a head football coach at the college level, Ross has amassed 107 wins and was a two-time national coach of the year. His teams have received two Bowl Game bids and have reached the playoffs eight times.
Upon his hiring, Ross said, “I am extremely honored to be chosen as the next head football coach at Graceland University. The commitment from Athletic Director Coach Brady McKillip and President Draves was apparent in the interviewing process. One of the experiences I gained from 20 years of coaching is that it is hard to build and sustain a strong program without administrative support. I am certain, the administration at Graceland University is committed to helping the football program elevate to the top of the Heart of America Athletic Conference. I’ve always had a lot of respect for the HAAC and I know how competitive the league is, so I’m excited to get back in, and begin to build one of the best programs in the country.”
The search committee, led by Graceland men’s soccer coach Brian Courtney, worked quickly and diligently to identify Ross as their leading candidate. Courtney was joined by VP for Student Life and Dean of Students Dave Schaal, Director of Athletic Operations Mari Chandler, Assistant Professor of Allied Health James Geiselman, Director of Writing and Tutoring Center Roger Powell, and Director of Undergraduate Admissions Twong Wells.
Several Graceland football alumni also assisted the search, including Jeff Criswell, Greg Criswell, Chris Coffin, Doug Bailey, Bruce Crozier, Russell Bruch, and Nick Uhlenhopp. Jeff Criswell, who played in the NFL for 11 seasons, said, “Patrick has proven to be the best candidate moving forward to rebuild our football program as well as developing a winning culture for years to come. We are all excited to see that Graceland has committed to the development of a winning program.”
President Patricia H. Draves said, “Coach Ross brings with him a wealth of success and experience and I am thrilled to welcome him to the Graceland community. My thanks also go to the entire search committee, who did fantastic work in ensuring the process was rigorous and fair. Thank you to the staff members and alumni who participated in the search.
“Coach Ross has experience in turning programs around and we are extremely excited to have him on campus to meet with players and begin an aggressive recruiting cycle. His experience as a head coach, success in turning programs around, and strong connections with the Midwest combined with his positive attitude and desire to win contributed to Graceland selecting him as our next football coach.” – President Patricia H. Draves
Ross officially starts immediately and will begin connecting with players and assistant coaches via phone. Ross will be on campus to start the new year and meet personally with the team and assistant coaches to begin assembling his staff.
Graceland kicks off its 2022 football season on August 27, 2022, in Olathe, KS vs. Mid-America Nazarene University.