The announcement was made today at a news conference at the Show Me Center where Samuel was introduced by University President Kenneth W. Dobbins and Athletic Director Don Kaverman as Southeast's new coach.
Samuel has received a five-year contract and will join Southeast effective Jan. 1, 2006.
Samuel was selected from three finalists, all of whom visited the campus for interviews the past two weeks. The other finalists were Craig Schurig, head coach at Washburn University, and Jerry Partridge, head coach at Missouri Western.
"We are very fortunate to have a University and an athletic program that attracts such a high quality pool of candidates," said Dobbins. "We believe Tony Samuel brings a wealth of expertise and talent to our program and that his experience, having appeared in four bowl games and coached in 11 bowl games, including two as the National Champions, will help Southeast become a champion in the Ohio Valley Conference."
Each finalist participated in daylong interviews, meeting with the Search Committee, Dobbins, the Athletics Department staff, Athletics Director Don Kaverman, the Southeast Boosters, and the public and media.
The Search Committee recommended Samuel as the top candidate following the finalists' campus interviews. The Search Committee previously narrowed down a pool of more than 40 applicants to the three finalists. Members of the Search Committee were Kaverman, who served as chair; Cindy Gannon, associate athletics director; Otis Turner, a former member of the Redhawk football team; Dr. Craig Downing, University athletic committee member; and Harry Rediger and Dr. Rich Eichhorst representing the Boosters.
"Tony Samuel comes to Southeast with some very respectable credentials," Kaverman said. "He most recently coached Rob Ninkovich, Purdue football team's Most Valuable Player of the Year 2005 and second team All-Big Ten, and he ranks third in career victories at New Mexico State. He also was instrumental in New Mexico State's ranking of 13th in graduation rates among NCAA Division I-A football programs at 76 percent. Tony knows how to win, both on the field and in the classroom."
Kaverman said that Samuel, along with the Southeast football players, the Athletics Department, the Southeast Boosters, the Southeast administration and the community will need to work as a team to improve the Southeast football program.
"We are committed to having a winning football tradition," he said. "We are extremely excited about the opportunity that Tony brings to the Redhawks football program."
Kaverman thanked the Board of Regents, Dobbins, the Search Committee and the Boosters for facilitating the search process.
"We had a tremendously talented and broad candidate pool," he said. "Tony was the consensus choice of everyone who had the opportunity to meet with him while he was on campus."
Samuel replaces Tim Billings, who recently resigned as head coach.
Samuel has served as assistant coach for defensive ends at Purdue since March 2005. From December 1996 to December 2004, he was head coach at New Mexico State University where he ranks third in career victories. His teams won the Rio Grande Championship twice and he led the Aggies to an undefeated season at home in 2002.
Prior to his tenure at New Mexico State, Samuel was an assistant coach at the University of Nebraska for ten years, assistant coach at Stanford University for two years and assistant coach at Western Michigan University for two years.
Samuel received his undergraduate degree from the University of Nebraska where he was a two-year starter for the Cornhuskers and played in four Bowl games, including the Sugar Bowl, Fiesta Bowl, Astro Bluebonnet and Liberty Bowl. He was Honorable Mention All-Big Eight in 1977.
Samuel and his wife, Tamara, have five children, Travis (22), Serena (20), Phillip (17), Karisa (14) and Terryn (1).