The Murray State Board of Regents approved a three-year contract extension for head football coach Mitch Stewart at its quarterly meeting in Murray on Friday. Also approved in the meeting were one-year extensions for head women’s soccer coach Matt Lodge and head women’s volleyball coach Dave Schwepker. Friday’s extension keeps all three head coaches in Murray through the 2021 season.
Stewart is coming off of his most successful season to-date going 5-6 overall and 5-3 in the OVC. The five league wins, which included a 4-0 start, and the fourth-place finish in the conference were the best by a Racer team since 2011. The highlight of Stewart’s 2017 season came against 19th-ranked Southeast Missouri in the form of the biggest comeback in program history. The Racers rallied from 31-0 down to beat the Redhawks, capped by a dramatic kickoff return for a touchdown with three seconds left in the game. Following the season, Stewart’s players earned eight OVC postseason accolades including five first-team All-OVC honors, the most for a Racer team since 2002.
“I am pleased that Mitch Stewart will continue to be Murray State’s head football coach, said interim Director of Athletics Velvet Milkman. “He is a good coach, as well as a person of high character who cares about the well-being of his players. I am confident that he will continue to lead our program in a positive and successful manner.”
In addition, interim Murray State president Dr. Bob Jackson, echoed Milkman’s sentiments, “We just completed an exciting season of Racer football and I am very confident that under Coach Stewart’s leadership, he and his coaching staff will continue to guide our student-athletes to be the best they can be both on the field and in the classroom.”
For his part, Stewart was excited to return, but promised that his team’s success this season was only the beginning. “I am very thankful to our administration for the opportunity to continue to lead these young men and this program in a positive direction. It has been very humbling to have the type of support and trust in what we are doing and the way we are doing it from everyone here associated with Murray State football. I look forward to the challenge of bringing the OVC championship back to Murray State and building the expectations of this program back to where it should be. We took steps in the right direction this year – but ‘you ain’t seen nothing yet.’”
Both Lodge and Schwepker’s respective teams finished second in the regular season, but went on to capture OVC tournament championships. For Schwepker, it was the fourth trip to the NCAA tournament in his highly successful 21-year career which has included three regular-season league championships, 10 winning season and his current five year-streak of 20-plus wins per season. For first-year skipper Lodge, the title win signifies that the Racers will continue to dominate a league in which they have won three of the last four OVC regular-season and tournament championships.