Mike Whalen, head coach of Williams football, announced last Friday that he is stepping down from his position in order to pursue a head coaching and assistant athletic director post at Wesleyan, his alma mater.
Whalen leaves Williams with a 38-10 career record, a 2006 NESCAC title and four Little Three titles under his belt. Especially notable was the Ephs’ 2006 season under Whalen, in which he led his team to the sixth 8-0-0 season in the program’s history.
Whalen’s departure from Williams marks a major shift for the athletic department: Before his tenure as head football coach, Whalen served as the wrestling coach for eight years, while concurrently coaching the Williams offensive line for five years and serving as line coach and defensive coordinator under former head football coach and current assistant track coach and club coordinator Dick Farley.
Athletic Director Harry Sheehy called Whalen’s departure a loss for the College but a great step forward for the former Eph head coach. “We’re sorry to see Mike go,” Sheehy said. “Obviously he’s been a great football coach … He’s done a great job and been a terrific department member, but [the move to Wesleyan] is a great opportunity for him and his family.”
When asked to comment on his decision, Whalen made it very clear that the decision to take the position at Wesleyan was purely a professional one. “This wasn’t a football decision,” he said. “It wasn’t about me wanting to coach football at Wesleyan more than I wanted to coach football at Williams. Everyone knows that Williams football has a very proud tradition, and I’ve been fortunate to be part of that tradition for 14 years.”
“What it really came down to for me was … thinking about other things I wanted to branch out to professionally,” Whalen continued. “That was probably the biggest attraction for the Wesleyan position: Being assistant athletic director will allow me to pursue some administrative things while also being football coach now, with the hope that down the road I will increase the administrative side [of the job].”
When asked about the future of the program, Sheehy indicated that the athletic department is primed to move directly into a national search for a new head coach. An ad for the position was made public on Monday afternoon.
“We will have a wonderful pool of candidates [as a result of our search], and will select a new head coach for Williams College to keep the program moving forward,” Sheehy said.
The new coach will begin responsibilities in “mid- to late April,” according to Sheehy Meanwhile, Sheehy plans to meet with the Eph squad on Thursday to “touch base with them and let them know where we’re going from here.”
For his part, Whalen met with his team last Thursday to discuss his departure and make it clear that his decision had nothing to do with the team itself.
“[My family and I are] very grateful for all the friendships we’ve had [here over the past 14 years]. Williams College and Williamstown will always have a special place in our hearts,” Whalen said. “We wish Williams football all the very best.”
Whalen will officially begin duties at Wesleyan on April 1.