RUSSELLVILLE, Ark. (ATU) - Steve Mullins, the all-time leader in victories as head football coach at Arkansas Tech University, resigned from his coaching duties on Thursday and will remain with the institution as director of athletics.
Mullins accumulated an overall record of 96-75 in 16 seasons as the head football coach at Arkansas Tech. He led the Wonder Boys to three NCAA Division II Playoffs appearances (1999, 2004 and 2009) and the 1999 Gulf South Conference championship.
A three-time GSC coach of the year, Mullins was NCAA Division II South Region coach of the year in 2004 and 2009. His players earned 17 All-America honors, 80 all-conference awards and 21 academic all-district recognitions.
Mullins coached eight members of the GSC All-Decade team for the 2000s, two GSC Commissioner's Trophy recipients for outstanding male student-athlete of the year and six GSC Top Ten male student-athlete selections.
His resignation as head football coach was accepted by the Arkansas Tech Board of Trustees during its regular monthly meeting on Thursday.
"Steve Mullins will forever be remembered as the man who restored the Arkansas Tech football program and returned us to a level consistent with our storied past," said Dr. Robert C. Brown, Arkansas Tech president.
"He inherited a program that had only experienced six winning seasons in the previous quarter-century and almost immediately turned it into a winner. Beyond the many victories, Coach Mullins has played an integral role in molding hundreds of young men and preparing them for life beyond football. I am pleased that Arkansas Tech will continue to benefit from his leadership qualities in the role of director of athletics."
Mullins was selected as the 14th head football coach at Arkansas Tech University in the summer of 1997.
The first landmark win of the Mullins era came on Oct. 17, 1998, when the Wonder Boys went to Conway and defeated arch rival University of Central Arkansas 16-15. It was Arkansas Tech's first football victory over the Bears since 1973.
Little more than 12 months later, Arkansas Tech became the first football program from the Natural State to win the GSC football championship outright. The Wonder Boys finished the 1999 season with a 9-3 overall record and advanced to the NCAA Division II Playoffs for the first time in school history.
In 2000, Arkansas Tech finished 7-3 overall and was the only team to defeat eventual NCAA Division II national champion Delta State University.
The 2001 Wonder Boys were 8-2 overall, and their two losses were by a combined total of four points. Despite a 33-28 win at UCA on the final day of the regular season, Arkansas Tech was denied an opportunity to compete in the NCAA Division II Playoffs.
The Wonder Boys returned to the postseason and made more history in 2004. Arkansas Tech opened the season with nine consecutive wins and attained its highest ranking ever in the American Football Coaches Association NCAA Division II top 25 when it was ranked No. 6 on Nov. 2, 2004.
Tech defeated Catawba College (N.C.) 24-20 in the first round of the NCAA Division II Playoffs on Nov. 13, 2004, at Buerkle Field in Russellville. It marked the first time that a school from Arkansas had ever hosted and the first time that a school from Arkansas had ever won an NCAA Division II Playoffs game.
Arkansas Tech finished the 2004 season with a 10-2 overall record. It was the Wonder Boys' first season with 10 or more wins since 1971 and one of just four 10-plus win seasons in Arkansas Tech football history (1960, 1968, 1971 and 2004).
The Wonder Boys became the first program in Arkansas to make three NCAA Division II Playoffs appearances when they reached the postseason again in 2009 and finished with an overall record of 9-3.
Behind Harlon Hill Trophy finalist quarterback Nick Graziano, the 2009 Wonder Boys established new school records for total offense (6,329 yards), passing yardage (4,635) and scoring average (40.8 points per game).
Arkansas Tech earned its second all-time win in the NCAA Division II Playoffs when it defeated the University of North Carolina Pembroke 41-13 in an opening-round game at Thone Stadium at Buerkle Field in Russellville on Nov. 14, 2009.
In his role as director of athletics, Mullins has overseen the Arkansas Tech Department of Athletics since April 16, 2003. He helped the university become one of the charter members of the Great American Conference when the new NCAA Division II league was formed on July 13, 2010.
Under Mullins' leadership, Arkansas Tech captured the inaugural Great American Conference All-Sports Trophy during the 2011-12 academic year.
One of the top 10 programs in NCAA Division II football history in terms of all-time wins (531), Arkansas Tech will begin its search for a new head football coach immediately.