Former New Manchester coach Kevin Whitley has been named the interim coach for the Georgia Southern Eagles.
Whitley assumed the role Sunday evening when Chad Lunsford was relieved of his duties following a weekend loss.
The Eagles will enter Saturday’s game against Arkansas State at 4 p.m. with a 1-3 record.
Whitley, in his third year as the team’s cornerbacks coach, was tapped for the job.
Georgia Southern Athletic Director Jared Benko said a national search will be conducted to find a new coach.
“You know, when you make these decisions, you look through the lens of what is in the best long-term interest of the program,” Benko said. “We have a strong vision for Georgia Southern football, and we’re not meeting it.”
Lunsford had led the Eagles program since the 2017.
Whitley is a former All-American for the Eagles program during his career from 1988-91 and played on two national championship teams.
“Everybody has a role,” Whitley said during a news conference Monday. “Whether you’re scout team or no team, you know, if you’ve got that blue jersey on, it means something, and so, as long as you’ve got that jersey on, we’re going to do it one way.”
He said deciding to accept the position wasn’t too tough.
“You know, Georgia Southern is a special place to me. You know, I’ve been here, spent a lot of my life here, a lot of lifelong relationships, so the decision was not hard,” he said. “It’s not hard, it’s making sure our guys were in a good position.”
Whitley accepted the head-coaching position at New Manchester in February 2019 after leading the Stockbridge program.
Two weeks prior to the start of the season, he resigned to join Lunsford’s staff in Statesboro.
Cedric Jackson was named acting coach before getting the job full-time in 2020. He led the team to its first region championship last year as the Jaguars advanced to the second round of the playoffs.
Before joining the staff at Southern, Whitley spent 18 seasons as a high school head coach in Georgia, most notably at Stockbridge High where he compiled a record of 160 and 55 — winning seven region championships.
“Coach Lunsford recruited me, so we’re all in the same boat there,” Whitley said. “I mean, I have a lot of respect for Coach Lunsford. He’s the reason I’m here, he gave me an opportunity, and I’ve tried to support him and make the best of the opportunity he’s given me, so I think all of us are in the same boat there.
“All of us have very strong feelings about him, but right now, just like we just mentioned that, you know, when adversity hits, you’ve got to find a way to step up and get it done, so that’s what we’re going to try to do. I met with the staff, I met with the players, I met with support staff, and I’ll continue to do that the rest of the day, and make sure we’re all on the same page.”