Jacksonville officially hires Ian Shields as football coach

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) Given Jacksonville University's football history, Ian Shields could be around a while.

The school announced Shields as its new coach Tuesday, formally introducing him four days after he resigned from Lenoir-Rhyne University.

Shields is the third coach in the program's 18-year history, following Steve Gilbert (1998-2006) and Kerwin Bell (2007-2015). Bell's contract was not renewed after nine seasons and a 66-35 record in the Football Championship Subdivision. The Dolphins have played in the Pioneer Football League since 2001.

''Three coaches in (nearly) two decades is a happy thing and that speaks to the quality of this program with which the seriousness that we take football at Jacksonville University,'' athletic director Donnie Horner said.

Shields spent the last two seasons at Lenoir-Rhyne in Hickory, North Carolina. He went 17-6 with the Bears, winning a South Atlantic Conference championship and being named the league's coach of the year in 2014. His offense topped the Division II rushing charts both years.

Shields went through a coaching change as a quarterback at Oregon State in the early 1990s and empathized with what the Dolphins have endured in recent weeks.

''Change is hard, but what they also need to understand is that change is inevitable in life,'' Shields said. ''What we can do is be respectful of the past and be excited about what's happening in the near future. My coaching staff and I will put our arms around these young men and embrace them.''

Before taking over at Lenoir-Rhyne, Shields spent five seasons as the associate head coach and offensive coordinator at Army (2009-13).

Horner graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and is a former Army quarterback.

''I see this as a great opportunity professionally, a great opportunity to work with a great institution, and for my family and me to enjoy Jacksonville,'' Shields said. ''The future of Jacksonville football is extremely bright. We have a great product here, institution to sell, winning tradition, academics and everything you could want.''

AP college football website: collegefootball.ap.org