Hall of Fame football coach Chris Ault, a pillar of the University of Nevada since his hiring in 1976, announced Friday during a press conference at Legacy Hall that he is stepping down from the program that he has been associated with as a player, coach and administrator for more than 40 years.
The winningest coach in school history with a career record of 233-109-1 in 28 seasons, Ault guided Nevada from Division II to I-AA glory in the Big Sky Conference 1980s and early 90s, into I-A and the Big West Conference in 1992 and on to the WAC and now the Mountain West Conference. Along the way, he won 10 conference championships and took the Wolf Pack to postseason play 16 times, including 10 bowl games in 12 FBS seasons. He leaves a lasting legacy of accolades and contributions to the game, perhaps none of which greater than his creation of the Pistol offense in 2005, a scheme now employed by hundreds of teams at every level of football.
“With great humility and mixed emotions, I’ve decided it’s time for me to step down,” Ault said. “Wolf Pack football has firmly established a blueprint for success that can be sustained.”
Ault, who played quarterback at Nevada from 1965-67 and earned two degrees from the University. He was hired by his alma mater in 1976 at the age of 29, the youngest college coach in the country at the time. He would later be inducted into four different Halls of Fame, including the College Football Hall of Fame in 2002 at the age of 55. This year, Ault passed Bear Bryant to set the mark for most wins by a coach at his alma mater. He finishes his career tied for 29th on the NCAA charts for most career victories.
“I extend my utmost appreciation to Chris Ault for his 41 years of association with Wolf Pack Athletics and the University of Nevada, Reno,” University president Marc Johnson said. “He has achieved great progress and has taken the program through four conference changes and numerous bowl-game appearances. Through his Hall of Fame induction and his innovative advancements to the game of football, Coach Ault has brought national recognition to our University and our region. Chris Ault is an impressive leader and his contributions to Wolf Pack football, Nevada Athletics, our University and our region are immeasurable.”
Johnson said that he will work with Nevada athletics director Cary Groth and will act quickly to identify Nevada’s next head coach through a national search.
“Chris Ault truly has been Nevada Football for more than 40 years,” Groth said. “He has left an indelible footprint on not only the football program, but the University as well. His legacy is one of success, honor and tradition. There is a reason that he is in the Hall of Fame and was one of the youngest coaches ever inducted. I know I speak for the entire community in congratulating – and sincerely thanking – Coach for his honorable service to college football and our University.”
Ault also served as Nevada’s athletics director from 1986-2004.