It’s the end of an era.
Mike Ayers is retiring after 30 years as Wofford College head football coach.
A news conference is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. in the Richardson Building on campus. He finished his career by guiding the Terriers to two straight 10-win seasons and back-to-back appearances in the national quarterfinals for the first time in program history.
Wofford this year won its fifth Southern Conference championship since 2003 and made an eighth FCS postseason appearance, ending a 10-3 campaign Saturday in the Elite Eight against North Dakota State.
Ayers, 69, has more wins than any other football coach in Southern Conference history. Earlier this season, he surpassed the 200-victory mark at Wofford and he finished with 218, including three years at East Tennessee State. He was head coach for the longest period of time in any sport at Wofford, far surpassing the 19 seasons by Gene Alexander with the basketball team (1958-77).
In 2003, when the Terriers won 12 straight games to reach the national semifinals, Ayers received the Eddie Robinson Award as NCAA Division I-AA (now FCS) coach of the year. He was Southern Conference coach of the year five times (2000, 2002, 2003, 2007 and 2010).
Ayers was second on the active list for FCS victories and also second in tenure, behind only Jimmye Laycock, who just finished his 38th season at William & Mary. Ayers is third on the all-time wins list, behind Laycock and Roy Kidd, who had 225 wins at Eastern Kentucky from 1978-2002. With a victory earlier this season at home against Chattanooga, Ayers passed longtime (1989-2012) coach and good friend Jerry Moore of Appalachian State (215 wins) to become the all-time leader in the Southern Conference.
Ayers, a native of Georgetown, Ky., was a two-way starter at linebacker (all-district) and offensive tackle at Georgetown College, where he also played baseball as a catcher and competed in wrestling and gymnastics. He served in the Marines and then began his coaching career as an assistant at his alma mater in 1974. He joined the staff at Newberry in 1976, Richmond in 1979 and Wofford in 1980. Ayers went to ETSU in1983, was named head coach two years later and then returned to take over the Wofford program in 1988.
Ayers inherited a team that was 1-10 the previous year and had scored just 87 points all season. Wofford won half its games in Ayers’ first campaign and made the NCAA Division II playoffs in 1990. The Terriers moved up to Division I and joined the Southern Conference in 1997.