Millikin Hires Dan Gritti as Next Football CoachPosted:
DECATUR (via Millikin Athletics) -- Illinois-Millikin University Director of Athletics Dr. Craig White is pleased to announce the hiring of Dan Gritti as the new Big Blue Head Football Coach.
Gritti comes to Millikin after successfully resurrecting the football program at Rhodes College in Memphis, Tennessee. In 2013, Gritti led the Lynx to an 8-2 record and the school’s first Southern Athletics Association (SAA) Championship in 26 years.
Under Gritti’s leadership, Rhodes had back-to-back 8-2 (5-1 in SAA) seasons in 2013 and 2014, setting a school record for most wins over a two-year period. The five wins in SAA play were the most conference wins in a single season in Lynx history. The 8-2 records were the best single season records at Rhodes since 1985 and the most wins in a season since 1977. In his five seasons at Rhodes, Gritti compiled a 29-19 (.604) career record.
Dr. Craig White, Millikin Director of Athletics states, “We had tremendous interest in the position with a quality pool of candidates. We looked at high school coaches with successful backgrounds, coordinators from top programs and college head coaches that had changed cultures and developed winning programs. I was impressed with what Coach Gritti accomplished at Rhodes. I am confident Coach Gritti will get Millikin football on the road to success and I look forward to working with him on that journey.”
"I am excited about the opportunity to bring the Big Blue football program back to prominence,” said Gritti. "It's an exciting time to be at Millikin, and I look forward to adding to the excitement on Saturdays in the fall as we put a successful team on the field. I chose to come to Millikin because of the quality of its student-athletes and the University's commitment to being successful in all its endeavors. They both deserve a winning football program, and I believe that I am the person to make that happen."
Millikin President Dr. Patrick White adds, “In a field of very competitive candidates, Dan Gritti rose to the top by virtue of his experience, demonstrated ability to create a winning culture, great energy and commitment to excellence.”
Gritti’s defenses at Rhodes were consistently among the best in the conference and nationally. In 2014, Rhodes was ranked second in the country in team sacks (41), second in fourth down defense and 12th in tackles for a loss. Rhodes’ Special Teams have excelled in the Gritti era earning Top 30 NCAA Division III national rankings in seven different special teams’ statistical categories.
In addition to the on-field success at Rhodes, Gritti recruited the two largest and most geographically diverse recruiting classes in program history and raised the team grade point average from 2.8 to 3.2. Gritti raised $4 million for the program that helped to fund a new FieldTurf field with lights, a varsity athletic weight room, and an endowed fund to provide budget enhancements for the football program.
Prior to coming to Rhodes, Gritti served as an assistant coach at the University of Chicago and Middlebury College. At both stops, Gritti was part of conference championship seasons. Gritti coached at the University of Chicago 2009-2010 serving as Special Teams Coordinator in both seasons. In his first season he coached the linebackers, and in 2010 his role expanded to directing the University of Chicago’s front seven. In his four seasons at Middlebury, Gritti served as Special Teams Coordinator and coached the linebackers and defensive backs.
As an assistant coach, Gritti developed a reputation for aggressive defenses and dynamic special teams. On his way to the 2010 University Athletic Association
hampionship at Chicago, Gritti’s defense finished second in the nation in sacks and third in tackles for loss. Similarly, Gritti’s special teams tied an NCAA record for most punts blocked for touchdowns in a season with six.
At Middlebury, Gritti was part of the team winning its first outright conference championship in 15 years and a defense that finished in the Top 20 nationally in seven separate categories including finishing third in the nation in Scoring Defense and fifth in Pass Efficiency Defense in 2007.
Gritti began his coaching career in the Big Ten Conference at Indiana University as a defensive quality control assistant. At Indiana, Gritti was reunited with his mentor Gerry DiNardo, who served as Vanderbilt’s head football coach while Gritti was an undergraduate.
Gritti earned a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and U.S. History at Vanderbilt University in 1995. He earned a Juris Doctorate degree from the University of Wisconsin Law School in 1998.