LAWRENCE, Kan. — Lance Leipold, a six-time National Champion, a five-time conference coach of the year and the fastest coach in NCAA history to reach 100 career wins, has been named the 41st head coach in Kansas Football history, Director of Athletics Travis Goff announced today. The two sides agreed to a six-year contract.
Leipold arrives at Kansas after a successful six-year stay at Buffalo, where in his final three seasons, he posted three straight winning seasons for the first time in 20 years. He won 24 games over the final three seasons, which included a seven-game shortened-season schedule in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic, marking the most successful three-year run in Buffalo history.
“I am absolutely thrilled to welcome Coach Leipold, Kelly, Lindsey and Landon to the Jayhawk Family,” said Director of Athletics Travis Goff. “He is a man of integrity, a developer of young men, a program builder and a winner. His track record of sustained excellence is exactly what we were looking for in our next leader, and is what the University of Kansas and our fans deserve. His commitment to maximizing our student-athletes’ abilities and experience on the field, in the classroom, in the community, and in life after KU is inspiring. Those qualities will attract individuals and develop them into exceptional Jayhawks.
We conducted an extensive national search that was guided by feedback from many constituents and this opportunity garnered interest from outstanding coaches across the country. We have an obligation to providing a world-class experience for our student-athletes and that remained at the forefront throughout the search. Additionally, we owe our fans, donors and alumni a football program that will be built for sustained success. I am confident that is what we will provide under the leadership of Coach Leipold. This is a tremendous day for the University of Kansas!”
A proven winner with a strong track record for player development, Leipold served as the head coach at Wisconsin-Whitewater for eight seasons from 2007 to 2014, capturing six NCAA Division III national championships and tallying an astounding record of 109-6.
“I am very thankful to Chancellor Girod and Travis Goff for providing me this opportunity to lead the Kansas Football program,” Leipold said. “It is an exciting and humbling opportunity, and this is a day I will never forget. We are going to build this program through developing players, discipline and determination. The philosophies engrained in our programs along the way will be key as we turn this around. This is a program that has a lot of young talent on the roster and has the infrastructure in place to succeed. The best days for this program are ahead, and my family and I are ecstatic to be a part of it. I am ready to get to work and give everything I have to the Jayhawks. Rock Chalk Jayhawk!”
After taking over a rebuilding Buffalo program that went 7-17 in his first two seasons, Leipold put together a record of 30-16 over his final four seasons, including three bowl appearances and two bowl victories with the Bulls.
Leipold is coming off a 2020 season at Buffalo that brought unprecedented success to the program. The Bulls went a perfect 5-0 in the regular season and won the MAC East Division title for the second-straight year. Leipold’s squad also beat Marshall in the Camellia Bowl for the program’s second ever bowl win and second in as many years.
Buffalo also appeared in the Associated Press Top 25 at No. 24 on December 6, 2020, marking the first-time in school history the Bulls appeared in the national rankings. The team finished the season ranked 25th in both the AP poll and the Amway Coaches Poll. Leipold was named the MAC Coach of the Year for the second time in his career after the record-breaking season.
Showcasing his pristine reputation for player development and a keen eye for recruiting, Buffalo tied a school-record with 12 All-MAC selections in 2020, all of whom were recruited by Leipold. Running back Jaret Patterson led the way, rushing for 1,072 yards in just six games, including a 409-yard performance against Kent State, which is the second-best performance in FBS history.
Patterson was named the winner of the Vern Smith Leadership Award, given to the MVP of the MAC and was also named the MAC Offensive Player of the Year under Leipold’s tutelage.
Buffalo also had 12 all-conference players in 2019, a season that culminated in the school’s first-ever bowl victory – a 31-9 win over Charlotte in the Makers Wanted Bahamas Bowl. The 2019 team featured one of the best defenses in the school’s history. Buffalo ranked seventh nationally in total defense, allowing 291.9 yards per game. The Bulls were also fourth nationally against the run, allowing 94.2 yards per game.
In 2018, Buffalo won 10 games in a season for the first time ever in program history. Leipold’s team went 7-1 in MAC play and won the East Division title. The Bulls also won 42-13 at Rutgers, marking the school’s first-ever win over a Power 5 opponent. He was named the MAC Coach of the Year and was also a semifinalist for the George Munger College Coach of the Year Award.
In that 2018 season, the Buffalo offense had a record-breaking season. Buffalo scored 484 points, 64 touchdowns and totaled 5,803 yards of total offense, establishing new school records in each category. Quarterback Tyree Jackson was named the MAC Offensive Player of the Year, while Patterson earned MAC Freshman of the Year honors.
In Leipold’s third season in 2017, the Bulls gained bowl eligibility for just the third time as an FBS program. The Bulls offense averaged 432 yards per game and led the conference in passing yards per game at 291. Showing an ability for explosive plays, Buffalo produced 20 plays of 45 or more yards on the season.
Leipold became the head coach at Buffalo in December of 2014 after a triumphant career as the head coach at Wisconsin-Whitewater, which saw him earn six National Coach of the Year awards. In his first season there in 2007, the Warhawks went 14-1 and won the Division III national championship. In 2008, the team made it back to the title game and fell to Mount Union.
Wisconsin-Whitewater then went 45-0 over the next three seasons, winning three straight national championships. After a 7-3 campaign in 2012, Whitewater went 30-0 combined in 2013 and 2014 winning two more national titles with Leipold at the helm.
During his time there, Warhawk players totaled 56 All-America honors, with running back Justin Beaver winning the Gagliardi Trophy as the top player in Division III. Brent Allen won the Division III Rimington Award as the top center. Running back Levell Coppage earned D3Football.com Offensive Player of the Year honors, while Cole Klotz won those honors on the defensive side.
Leipold, a native of Jefferson, Wisconsin, began his coaching career at Whitewater in 1987 as a quarterbacks coach. He moved to the University of Wisconsin in 1991, where he served as a graduate assistant for Barry Alvarez for three seasons and helped the Badgers win a Big Ten title and a Rose Bowl appearance in 1993.
He then served as an assistant coach at Division II Nebraska-Omaha from 1994-2000, helping the Mavericks become three-time conference champions. He was promoted to offensive coordinator in 2000, before moving on to Nebraska where he worked for Frank Solich for four seasons. He then returned to Nebraska-Omaha for three years as the associate head coach and offensive coordinator, before moving on to Wisconsin-Whitewater in 2007.
Leipold is a 1987 graduate of Wisconsin-Whitewater, where he was a standout quarterback. He is a member of the AFCA Ethics Committee as well as the AFCA Board of Trustees.
Leipold and his wife Kelly, have a daughter, Lindsey, and a son, Landon. Lindsey plays volleyball at Stetson University (DeLand, Florida).