FLORENCE, Ala. - Just days after an appearance in the NCAA Division II Championship game, University of North Alabama head football coach Bobby Wallace announced he is retiring. He shared the news in a press conference on Tuesday.
Wallace has been the Lions' head coach for 15 seasons. He said his growing family is one of the top reasons why he is retiring for what he calls a third time, noting that he hopes this one sticks. He said he wants to be able to spend more time with his parents, as well as his grandchildren. He added that his wife has been patient throughout his coaching journey.
"Sharon, my wife, has followed me all over the country for the last 25 years from New Jersey to Philadelphia to Florence to Livingston, back to Florence," he said, "and after 25 years, it's her turn and I'm not going to steal the opportunity for her to help her daughter."
Wallace also said the school's transition to Division I happened slower than he planned. UNA announced earlier this month its athletics department would officially move from Division II to Division I. The move was initially set to take place in 2011.
"Now it's time for a new coach to build a program the way he wants it when the transition is over and I don't need to be doing that for him, " Wallace said.
Wallace has spent 40 years roaming the sidelines at eight different schools. He initially retired in 2010 following five years as the head coach at West Alabama. He returned to Florence for his second stint with the Lions in 2012.
Wallace said he strongly considered retiring following the 2015 season, but instead decided to stay another year for his coaching staff.
Wallace helped guide the Lions to the school's first Division II National Championship Game appearance in 21 years this season, earning him Gulf South Conference Coach of the Year honors. UNA lost to Northwest Missouri State 29-3 during a cold, snowy game in Kansas City on Saturday, December 17.
He also led the Lions to football success in the 1990s, including three straight Division II National Championships, and then returned to UNA in 2012, taking the team to three consecutive Gulf South Conference Championships and NCAA post-season appearances from 2013-15.
Wallace leaves the program as the winningest football coach in UNA history. He also holds the most wins as a football coach in Gulf South Conference history.