news-category: Athletics

Gardner-Webb University Names Cris Reisert Head Football Coach

graphic announcing reisert as head football coach

Reisert to be Introduced to Campus and Community in News Conference on Dec. 14

BOILING SPRINGS, N.C.—University President Dr. William M. Downs has named Cris Reisert as Gardner-Webb’s next head football coach. An introductory news conference is scheduled for Thursday, Dec. 14, at 11 a.m. in the Gardner-Webb Football Center at Spangler Stadium.

“Ours was a true national search, attracting attention from strong candidates around the region and across the country,” explained Downs. “We wanted our next head football coach to be someone who would come in with successful experience as a head coach, someone who consistently fields an up-tempo high-scoring offense, and someone with the confidence to take on (and beat) anybody, anywhere, any time. In Coach Reisert, we’ve found our guy. He sees no ceiling for Gardner-Webb football. He clearly knows how to win, how to build and sustain a program, and—most importantly—how to keep the focus on the student-athletes who he is charged with leading. I’m eager to support Coach Reisert as he builds on our proud football tradition and takes it to new and impressive heights.”

Reisert comes to Gardner-Webb with 13 years of experience coaching in Divisions I and II. He most recently spent five seasons as the head coach at Tiffin University, Ohio, where he compiled an overall record of 40-11 (.784 win pct.) and a Great Midwest Conference (GMAC) record of 32-4 (.889).

At Tiffin, Reisert led his team to three GMAC championships (2019, 2020, 2023) and was named GMAC Coach of the Year in each of those championship seasons. This past season, his most successful team posted an 11-1 record, completing the regular season unbeaten before losing in the second round of the Division II national playoffs. With Reisert also handling offensive coordinator duties, the 2023 Tiffin Dragons finished ranked in the top 25 nationally in scoring offense (43.7 PPG, 6th), total offense (482.9 4th), scoring defense (16.2 PPG allowed, T-16th), and total defense (281.2 YPG allowed, 22nd).

During his tenure at Tiffin, Reisert’s other notable accomplishments included the first two Division II playoff berths in school history (2019 and 2023), the highest national ranking in school history (No. 9), and the program’s first win over its primary rival (University of Findlay) in 22 years. In total, Reisert’s team defeated Findlay three times in five meetings. Reisert’s 40 total wins in five seasons were the most career wins by any head coach in his first five seasons in Tiffin’s history.

Vice President and Director of Athletics Dr. Andrew Goodrich also noted that Reisert quickly rose to the top of an amazing candidate pool as the best person for GWU’s students, staff, alumni and community. “I couldn’t be prouder and more excited to welcome Cris Reisert, his wife Emily, son Hawkins, and daughter Lennox to the Gardner-Webb family,” Goodrich affirmed. “As we did our research, we found that the offensive statistics, championships won, and honors earned were surpassed only by the incredible feedback we received from the people who he has worked closest with throughout his career. In short, Cris is a champion in every respect, will teach our players to become the best that they can be, and will faithfully serve our football community.”  

Prior to Tiffin, Reisert spent two seasons as the offensive coordinator at his alma mater, Ohio Dominican University in Columbus. In seven seasons as the primary play caller, Reisert’s teams have averaged 38 points per game and 455 yards per game.

In his stops at Ohio Dominican and Tiffin, Reisert has built a reputation for leaving an immediate impact. In 2017, his first at Ohio Dominican, the offense improved by 11.5 points and 123 yards per game, as compared to the previous season. He authored the same success in year one at Tiffin (2019), boasting a 13-point and 83-yard improvement on average.

Reisert is ready to begin work at Gardner-Webb. “It is a tremendous honor to be selected as the head football coach at Gardner-Webb University,” Reisert asserted. “This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for me and my family and we can’t wait to get started building upon the amazing tradition of Gardner-Webb football. Thank you to President Downs, Dr. Goodrich and the Board of Trustees for the opportunity; we are eager to join the Cleveland County community and get to work!”

In 2021, Reisert was selected to the American Football Coaches Association’s 35 Under 35 list. Other stops in his coaching career include three seasons as tight ends coach at Elon University (2014-2016), one season as an assistant offensive line coach at Ball State University (2013), and two seasons in a prior stint at Ohio Dominican as the wide receivers coach (2011-2012).

GWU's new head coach Reseirt

As a player, Reisert started four years at quarterback for Ohio Dominican, where he was named the 2007 National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) National Player of the Year and a two-time All-American. He was inducted into the school’s Hall of Fame in 2019.

Reisert holds a bachelor’s (2009) and master’s degree (2011) in business administration from Ohio Dominican. He and his wife Emily have two children, a son Hawkins and a daughter Lennox.

Gardner-Webb University was assisted in this search by Drew Turner and Marcy Lanoue of Collegiate Sports Associates, a Raleigh-based executive search firm for athletics.

What they’re saying about Coach Cris Reisert:

“Cris is without a doubt one of the young superstars in the head coaching ranks. He has had to do it the hard way, without any privilege and on his own. He will do an outstanding job at Gardner-Webb, win games the right way, and help provide a tremendous experience for his student-athletes.”

  • Curt Cignetti, Head Football Coach, Indiana University

“Cris showed as a young coach that he had all of the leadership qualities and organizational ability to make an excellent head coach someday. I am not at all surprised at this great success at Tiffin and I am confident he is well prepared for this new opportunity at Gardner-Webb. He will quickly earn the trust of the players and the respect of the campus community.”

  • Pete Lembo, Associate Head Football Coach, University of South Carolina

“I couldn’t see Gardner-Webb making a better hire. Coach Reisert is an outstanding football coach, father, husband, and loves to mentor young people. He will always be on the cutting edge of the X’s & O’s, but a better job teaching and building relationships with his players”

  • Todd Goebbel, Special Teams, N.C. State University

“This hire is an absolute home run! Cris is a great leader, teacher, and communicator that will make a positive impact on the Gardner-Webb community each and every day. The future of GW Football is bright with Cris Reisert as the head football coach.”

  • Pat Dougherty, Special Teams, Duke University

“We are so excited for Coach Reisert and his family and this opportunity at Gardner-Webb. We are extremely proud of the progress we made under his direction at Tiffin University, not only as a coach but as an exemplary athletic leader. We wish him continued success and nothing but the absolute best.”

  • Dr. Lillian Schumacher, President of Tiffin University

Gardner-Webb University is North Carolina’s recognized leader in private, Christian higher education. A Carnegie-Classified Doctoral/Professional University, GWU is home to nine colleges and schools, more than 80 undergraduate and graduate majors, and a world-class faculty. Located on a beautiful 225-acre campus in Boiling Springs, N.C., Gardner-Webb prepares graduates to impact their chosen professions, equips them with the skills to advance the frontiers of knowledge, and inspires them to make a positive and lasting difference in the lives of others. Ignite your future at

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