(HUNTSVILLE, Texas) Sam Houston State athletic director Bobby Williams named K.C. Keeler the 15th head coach in Bearkats history Thursday morning.
Early speculation linked Northwest Missouri State athletic director Mel Tjeerdsma to the job. Tjeerdsma last coached in 2010 as he completed a 17 year stint with the Bearcats.
"I've always had that desire to coach one level above this," Tjeerdsma said. "That was an opportunity for it, but it didn't work out."
Keeler has experience coaching at the Division I FCS level. He led the Delaware Blue Hens to a national championship in 2003, and reached the title game in 2007 and 2010.
This is the closest Tjeerdsma has been to advancing to the FCS level since 2010. He was a finalist for the University of Texas at San Antonio head coaching position, but Larry Coker received the job.
Despite being the winningest coach in Divsion II football postseason history, the stigma of never coaching at the Division I level has overshadowed his record in the eyes of FBS and FCS schools.
"You get guys at the D-I level because they have ties," Tjeerdsma's former player Kenny Gordon said. "That doesn't really mean anything. Football is football."
"There's no doubt that there is that perception, and I feel bad for Division II coaches," Tjeerdsma said. "I think there are a lot of great Division II coaches and Division III coaches that could do well in those situations."
Tjeerdsma led Northwest to three Division II National Championships before retiring in 2010. In 2011, he returned to Austin College, where he served as head coach for 10 years in the 1980s and early 1990s, as part of the development department before returning to Northwest as athletic director last March.