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South Dakota State coach wins school’s first FCS title, retires after 26 years

South Dakota State football head coach John Stiegelmeier is going out on top. 

After 26 seasons as head coach in Brookings, South Dakota, Stiegelmeier announced his retirement Thursday, nearly two weeks after winning the Jackrabbits’ first FCS championship

Head coach John Stiegelmeier of the South Dakota State Jackrabbits before a game against the North Dakota State Bison in the Division I FCS football championship at Toyota Stadium Jan. 8, 2023, in Frisco, Texas. 
( Justin Tafoya/NCAA Photos via Getty Images)

“(Wife) Laurie and I, with our family, want to thank South Dakota State University and SDSU Athletics for being blessed to serve as the head football coach,” Stiegelmeier said in a statement on SDSU’s website. 

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“During our 26 years in this role, a lifetime of memories have occurred. The support of so many, including three university presidents, numerous assistant coaches, countless student-athletes, two athletic directors and the Jackrabbit fan base has been so special. Thank you to each and every one who have believed in us.”   

SDSU defeated North Dakota State 45-21 in the FCS championship game for the school’s first-ever playoff win over NDSU.

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Head coach John Stiegelmeier of the South Dakota State Jackrabbits against the North Dakota State Bison in the Division I FCS football championship at Toyota Stadium Jan. 8, 2023, in Frisco, Texas. 

Head coach John Stiegelmeier of the South Dakota State Jackrabbits against the North Dakota State Bison in the Division I FCS football championship at Toyota Stadium Jan. 8, 2023, in Frisco, Texas. 
(Justin Tafoya/NCAA Photos via Getty Images)

From 1997-2022, Stiegelmeier compiled a record of 199-112 and helped the Jackrabbits make the jump from Division II to the FCS in 2004. 

“Simply put, South Dakota State University is a better place because of John and Laurie Stiegelmeier,” director of athletics Justin Sell said. “Their impact goes far beyond wins and losses or championships because of the family culture they have fostered throughout their time here and by building a program based on character, hard work and excellence in all areas.”

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Stiegelmeier will be succeeded by defensive coordinator Jimmy Rogers, who becomes the 21st coach in SDSU history. 

He retires as the winningest coach in program history after posting a winning record in 22 of 26 seasons as head coach. 

South Dakota State head coach John Stiegelmeier, center, celebrates with quarterback Mark Gronowski, left, and offensive lineman Mason McCormick with the trophy after they defeated North Dakota State to win the FCS championship game Jan. 8, 2023, in Frisco, Texas. 

South Dakota State head coach John Stiegelmeier, center, celebrates with quarterback Mark Gronowski, left, and offensive lineman Mason McCormick with the trophy after they defeated North Dakota State to win the FCS championship game Jan. 8, 2023, in Frisco, Texas. 
(G3 Box News Photo/LM Otero)

“I want to thank John and Laurie for all that they have done for South Dakota State University during a career that has spanned more than three decades,” said SDSU President Barry Dunn. “Coach Stig’s record will speak for itself and winning a national championship in his final game is a storybook ending to an amazing career. 

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“More importantly, he positively impacted hundreds of young men and pushed them to be successful in the classroom, on the field and in life. He did this by exemplifying the core values of our university every day. Coach Stig’s legacy is one of greatness, and those who were fortunate to be around him have benefited from how he lives and his ability to be a positive influence on everyone.” 

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