Navy has promoted defensive coordinator Brian Newberry to head football coach, the athletic department announced Monday.
Newberry, 48, replaces Ken Niumatalolo, who was fired the day after the Army-Navy Game Dec. 10. Niumatalolo was Navy’s all-time winningest coach with a 109-83 career record over 15 seasons.
The hiring was announced just after noon when Navy athletics issued a news release. A news conference has been scheduled for Tuesday to introduce Newberry as the 40th football coach in program history.
“Coach Newberry is respected and was highly endorsed by many within the Navy football family,” Navy athletic director Chet Gladchuk said in a statement. “Brian is organized, innovative, intelligent, inspirational and brings an expectation of competitive toughness that has made Navy one of the top defensive units in the nation.”
Gladchuk said Newberry’s experience at numerous civilian schools, along with the four years at the Naval Academy, enabled him to “create a vision for Navy football that is all-encompassing and very logical as it pertains to the way ahead.”
Newberry, in a statement, thanked Gladchuk and Vice Adm. Sean Buck, the Naval Academy superintendent, for showing confidence in him and providing “this incredible opportunity.” Newberry also thanked Niumatalolo for “taking a chance on me” four years ago.
“It is a great honor and privilege to lead this program. It is a great responsibility that I fully accept and embrace. I could not be more excited and optimistic about the future of Navy football,” Newberry said.
Newberry called the Naval Academy a “special place” and said there are great young men in the program. Newberry said he believes “wholeheartedly” in the mission of the institution and he’s seen firsthand the impact it has on the lives of young men and women who graduate and serve.
“Our culture remains strong. We will facilitate the values and the mission of the Naval Academy within our program. We will make the Navy football family and all associated with the Naval Academy proud, both on and off the field,” he said. “Go Navy! Beat everyone!”
Gladchuk also interviewed Kennesaw State head coach Brian Bohannon, a source close to Bohannon said.
Bohannon, who was an assistant at Navy and Georgia Tech under Paul Johnson, owns a 68-24 overall record in eight seasons at Kennesaw State, which is moving up from the Football Championship Subdivision to Conference USA in July, 2024. It is unclear if Gladchuk interviewed any other candidates for the vacancy.
Niumatalolo hired Newberry in 2019 after previous defensive coordinator Dale Pehrson and several other defensive assistants did not have their contracts renewed.
Newberry was hired from Kennesaw State in Georgia and was responsible for directing a dramatic turnaround of the Navy defense. The Midshipmen made significant improvement in every major statistical category, moving from the bottom of the Football Bowl Subdivision to the upper third.
In 2019, Newberry was a semifinalist for the Frank Broyles Award as the top assistant coach in FBS after Navy went from 86th to 16th in total defense. The Midshipmen were ranked 10th nationally in rushing defense that season.
Defense has been considered a strength of the Navy football program during Newberry’s four years. This past season, the Midshipmen ranked sixth nationally in rushing defense, allowing 88.9 yards per game on the ground.
Navy also finished eighth nationally in fewest first downs allowed, 20th in sacks, 22nd in fumbles recovered and 30th in total defense this season.
In addition, Navy has defended archrival Army well the past four meetings, allowing an average of 14 points and 173 total yards.
Gladchuk named Newberry interim coach on Dec. 11, the day Niumatalolo was fired. During a news conference last Monday, Gladchuk confirmed that Newberry was a viable candidate to become head coach. Gladchuk made it clear that the football team will continue to employ some version of triple-option offense going forward.
“I like Brian, I like his style,” said Gladchuk, describing Newberry as “highly organized” and noted that defensive assistants and players respected him.
Newberry was defensive coordinator at Kennesaw State from 2015 to 2018. He has held the same title at Northern Michigan, University of the South and Washington & Lee.
Until Navy, Newberry had coached at either the Football Championship Subdivision, Division II or III levels. Contacted by The Capital last Monday, Newberry confirmed his desire to become Navy head coach, saying it would be “an honor and a privilege.”
Navy inside linebackers coach P.J. Volker has been with Newberry for six years and knows him as well as any member of the Navy staff. Volker, who followed Newberry from Kennesaw State to Annapolis, has no doubt his boss will be a successful head coach.
“Brian is a brilliant football coach. Anyone who has watched Kennesaw State and Navy football for the past six years has seen that,” Volker said. “I think Brian is the right man to lead this program because he loves the Naval Academy and all that its stands for, loves the mission of developing young men into leaders and officers and is going to embrace that role.”
Volker said he’s seen how much Newberry cares about the members of the Navy football program and has heard him speak about the importance of molding those midshipmen in “all facets of their lives.”
“I’m really excited for Brian and I’m excited for Navy football and the entire Naval Academy community because I think they got themselves a heck of a football coach and an even better person to lead this program,” said Volker, who is a leading candidate to become defensive coordinator.
Newberry met with Gladchuk numerous times last week to discuss the composition of the coaching staff, sources said. Newberry informed Gladchuk that he could put together a strong staff of offensive assistants with knowledge of triple-option football.
He also outlined how the defense would operate with him as head coach, presumably to include which of his assistants would be named defensive coordinator.
Newberry, an Oklahoma native, is a 1998 graduate of Baylor University and was a defensive back on the football team. He just completed his 24th season as a collegiate coach.
Newberry and his wife, Kate, are the parents of a son, Max, and a daughter, Lyla.
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