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Brad Salem Resigns as Football Coach; Aldrich Named Successor

SIOUX FALLS, SD – Augustana College Director of Athletics Bill Gross announced that Brad Salem has resigned as head football coach, ending one of the most successful five-year periods in Viking football history. Gross also announced that assistant coach Mike Aldrich has been named the Vikings’ 21st head football coach. The announcement came Friday afternoon at a press conference in the Siverson Lounge of the Morrison Commons Building.

Salem, a Sioux Falls native, steps down to take the running backs coaching position at Michigan State University. He completed his fifth season as the Vikings' head coach in 2009. He compiled a 31-26 overall record after going 8-4 in 2008 and again in 2009. The 8 wins tied a school record for victories in a season, something that has happened eight times in school history. With his 31 wins, Salem ranks third on the school's all-time wins list. He trails only Jim Heinitz (82) and L.A. "Lefty" Olson (77).

"Brad has done an outstanding job in all areas as head football coach at Augustana,” Gross said. “He has been an exceptional leader and coach. Brad has not only performed those duties in a classy and professional manner but he has also been a positive representative of Augustana in his interactions with his student-athletes, coaching staff, prospective recruits, their parents, the media and our fans. We will miss Brad but we know this is a tremendous opportunity for him so we wish he, Chrissy and their family all the best as they move to Michigan State University.

Salem led the Vikings to immediate success in their first two seasons in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference. The Vikings finished in fourth place in 2008 and they tied for third place in 2009. In both seasons, Augustana was chosen to represent the NSIC in the Mineral Water Bowl. Both times Augustana squared off against Missouri Western State. The Vikings beat the Griffons 37-16 in 2008, but fell to MWSU 34-21 in 2009.

After the Vikings jumped out to a 3-0 start in 2009, they were ranked 24th in the AFCA Division II Top 25 Coaches' Poll. It was Augustana's first appearance in the top 25 since the 1989 season.

Salem was named the Vikings' head coach after spending one season as the team's offensive coordinator. He was promoted to offensive coordinator following the 2003 season. In 2003, Salem returned to Augustana after a 10-year hiatus to serve as the Vikings’ quarterbacks coach.

“First of all, I am thankful for the opportunity to coach at my alma mater,” Salem said. “I am thankful for the support of (President) Rob Oliver and Bill Gross and all of the things they have done for me. I also want to thank the coaches and players for the chance to be a part of their lives.

“I am excited for Mike to have the opportunity to take over this program,” Salem added. “Mike’s ready for this chance. He’s been ready for some time now. I think the transition will be extremely smooth and he will continue the success we’ve enjoyed over the past few seasons.”

Salem is no stranger to Michigan State. From 1994-96, Salem served as the offensive graduate assistant at Michigan State University where he worked with the quarterbacks and wide receivers under George Perles and Nick Saban. Current MSU head coach Mark Dantonio was an assistant coach on that same staff.

“This is a great opportunity to return to Michigan State,” Salem said. “I am extremely excited to work with Coach Dantonio. I’ve known him for over 15 years.”

According to Gross, he didn’t need to look far to find the Vikings’ new head coach.

"When Brad let us know he was moving to Michigan State it quickly became clear to us that we had a person on our football staff who was ready to step into our head football coaching position,” Gross said. “Mike Aldrich has the knowledge, experience and recruiting ability needed to continue the momentum for success we have established in the Augie football program the past few years. Mike enjoys an outstanding relationship with our football coaching staff and student-athletes. He has shown that he is a strong motivator and leader. We are confident in Mike and are extremely excited to have him take over the reigns as our new head football coach at Augustana College."

Aldrich has spent the past six seasons on the Augustana staff. He’s been the team’s defensive coordinator for the past four seasons after serving as assistant defensive coordinator and special teams coordinator the previous two seasons.

“I am very excited about this opportunity,” Aldrich said. “Not many guys get their first head coaching job at a successful football program. But I get to take over a program where I helped recruit the players that are here. I want to build upon the foundation that Coach Heinitz laid and the walls that Coach Salem built. It’s now my chance to add another level to this house.

“Not only is this a good opportunity for me, but the rest of the coaching staff as well,” Aldrich said. “That was one of Brad’s big concerns. I wouldn’t have this opportunity if it weren’t for Brad. I can’t thank him enough. I also thank Rob Oliver and Bill Gross for the chance to lead this program.”

Aldrich spent the 2003 season as the defensive graduate assistant at the University of Louisville after serving a two-year stint as the secondary coach and assistant special teams coordinator at Augustana. Under Aldrich’s guidance, the Vikings special teams developed a knack for blocking kicks. In 2004, Augie blocked 8 kicks, and in 2005, the Vikings blocked 9 kicks.

During his first stint at Augustana, Aldrich was the driving force behind one of the top secondaries in the Division II ranks. Producing five all-conference honorees and one all-American during his tenure, the Aldrich-coached Vikings' secondary ranked among the nation’s top 10 for interceptions and was anchored by the league leader for picks in each of his two seasons at Augustana.

In addition to his duties at Augustana, Aldrich served as the head coach and defensive coordinator for the Sioux Falls Storm of the National Indoor Football League from 2000-02. Aldrich’s impact was immediately felt in the NIFL as the Storm’s defense quickly developed into one of the staunchest units in the league.

He returned to the Storm bench midway through the 2005 season as the team’s defensive coordinator, a position he still holds. During the past four seasons, the Storm has won four straight United Indoor Football (UIF) Association championships and won a professional sports record 40-straight games. In 2006, the Storm featured the No. 1 scoring defense in the UIF.

Aldrich also served as the special teams coordinator and linebacker coach for California Lutheran University in 2000 after serving as the assistant defensive line coach at the College of the Sequoias in 1999.

A native of Burnsville, Minn., Aldrich started in the coaching ranks at his alma mater, St. Olaf College, where he served as the defensive line coach in 1995, the tight ends coach and assistant offensive coordinator in 1996, and the linebackers coach during the 1997 and 1998 seasons.

A four-year letterwinner at St. Olaf, Aldrich served as special teams captain during his junior and senior seasons. He earned his bachelor’s degree in economics and social studies education from St. Olaf in 1995. He also earned a master’s degree in kinesiology from the University of Minnesota in 1999. Presently, Aldrich is working on a doctorate degree in sports management from the University of Louisville.

Aldrich and his wife, Kristen, live in Sioux Falls. They have a daughter, Makenna, and son, Joseph.