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EKU hires Tennessee assistant Mark Elder as its head football coach

Mark Elder was chosen to be Eastern Kentucky’s head football coach.
Mark Elder was chosen to be Eastern Kentucky’s head football coach. Tennessee Athletics

Eastern Kentucky confirmed the hiring of Tennessee assistant Mark Elder to be its head football coach.

EKU athletics department spokesman Kevin Britton said Tuesday that the school will hold a news conference Thursday to introduce Elder, who’s in his third season as the Volunteers’ tight ends/special teams coach.

“I’m excited, blessed and honored for the opportunity to lead one of the most tradition rich programs in college football,” Elder said, according to a news release by the school. “It didn’t take me long to realize that this is a special place.”

Elder is the 14th head coach in program history.

“It is humbling to have the opportunity to lead the same program that legendary coach Roy Kidd built into a national powerhouse,” Elder said. “It’s important to me that we maintain the standards, both on and off the field, that coach Kidd established during his Hall of Fame career.”

It will be the first head coaching job for the Case Western Reserve graduate in a 15-year career with stops at seven schools including Michigan, Cincinnati, Central Michigan and Akron.

“I couldn’t be more excited to welcome Mark and his family to EKU,” Director of Athletics Steve Lochmueller said, according to the news release. “We had a group of outstanding candidates to lead Colonel football. Eastern Kentucky University football carries a lot of weight throughout the coaching world. This is a place where people want to be.”

Elder replaces Dean Hood, who was dismissed last month after going 55-38 in eight seasons as Colonels coach, including 6-5 this year.

Elder, a Cincinnati native, helped guide Tennessee to an 8-4 record this season and a second-place finish in the Southeastern Conference East Division with a 5-3 mark. It was Tennessee’s first winning record in SEC play since 2007. The Volunteers will play Northwestern in the Outback Bowl on New Year’s Day.

Tennessee’s kickoff and punt return units rank first and second, respectively, in yardage nationally and have six touchdowns combined this season. The Vols also rank 15th in kickoff return defense.

“Eastern Kentucky has not only hired an outstanding football coach, but an even better person, teacher, mentor and motivator in Mark Elder,” Jones said.