HARRISONBURG — With all coaching changes going on in college football lately, James Madison University players, fans and alumni can breathe a sigh of relief. Mike Houston isn’t going anywhere.
The JMU head football coach signed a 10-year contract extension on Tuesday, keeping him under contract through the 2027 season. His contract was originally set to run out in 2021.
“Obviously, I’m extremely excited for the extension by the university,” Houston said after Tuesday’s practice. “It’s something that my family, Amanda (Houston’s wife) and I feel very strongly about. I’ve said it many times before that JMU is a special place and I really mean that.”
The Dukes, who have won 25 straight games, will host South Dakota State University in the Football Championship Subdivision semifinals at 4:30 p.m. Saturday.
Houston said he told the players before Tuesday’s practice started and they seemed excited by the news.
“We talk about having a family in that locker room, and I told the kids that’s a serious thing,” Houston said. “And that’s a special group I got and I got a great coaching staff. And we’re excited to be here. And we hopefully have a lot of football left to play this year.”
Houston said he had significant interest from Football Bowl Subdivision schools over the last month. Houston said he and the university have been working on the new contract for several weeks now. Houston said he was flattered by the offers from other schools, but it came down to JMU being where he wanted to be. Houston and his wife, Amanda, have two sons, Owen and Reid, and Houston said he felt like Harrisonburg was the best place for his family.
“It came down to what’s the best decision for Amanda, the boys, and I, the best decision for where we wanted to be,” Houston said. “And Harrisonburg is a great place to raise a family. And JMU’s a special place and this is where we wanted to be.”
Houston led JMU to the FCS national championship last year in his first year as head coach. Houston has a two-year record of 27-1.
JMU Director of Athletics Jeff Bourne said in a press release that Houston has done more than just lead the Dukes to a national championship.
“Mike Houston has proven to be the perfect fit as football coach at James Madison University, and we are thrilled that the Houston family has found JMU to be its perfect home,” Bourne said in a press release. “While Mike’s accomplishments on the field speak loudly, his most valuable role is guiding the student-athletes in our program, teaching them about leadership and about life, helping them to succeed in the classroom and building a culture of genuine care and compassion for each other. We look forward to many more victories on and off the field with Mike Houston at James Madison.
Houston said the university has also assured him that they are committed to keeping his assistant coaches around as long as possible as well.
“That’s’ important to me, because it’s not just a decision for me and my family, it’s also a decision for my coaches and their families,” Houston said. “Because people don’t think about that stuff. I got 10 assistant coaches and other support staff that they have kids and families and everybody’s affected by decisions. So JMU’s commitment to take care of our entire staff is something that’s very important. And I commend them for the way they stepped up.”
JMU offensive coordinator Donnie Kirkpatrick said the news was a real morale booster for the players.
“I think that’s awesome,” Kirkpatrick said. “I think that picked everybody up, knowing that the school appreciates what he’s doing and what we’re doing. It makes you want to come to work and it kind of fires you up.”