Wayne State football coach Paul Winters out after 19 seasons

Tony Paul
The Detroit News

Detroit — Change continues to come to the Wayne State athletic department.

Paul Winters, head football coach for 19 years who led the Warriors to the 2011 Division II national championship game, has parted ways with the university, a school spokesman confirmed Friday morning.

No reason was given for his departure. Winters could not be immediately reached for comment, and the university has yet to make an official announcement.

Winters is out after the Warriors finished the 2022 season 1-9, a fourth losing record in five seasons for a program that once was considered a regional powerhouse, and occasionally a national contender.

Paul Winters leaves as the winningest football coach in Wayne State program history.

Last month, longtime Wayne State athletic director Rob Fournier announced his retirement, shortly after he was placed on administrative leave for unknown reasons. Last November, longtime men's basketball coach David Greer resigned suddenly.

Winters took over as head football coach at Wayne State in December 2003, and within just three years, he had the team playing winning football for the first time in a decade. Then, in 2011, Wayne State made the national championship game, losing, 35-21, to Pittsburg State. That year, it had set a program record with 12 wins. Two years earlier, Wayne State running back and NFL-bound Joique Bell won the Harlon Hill, the Division II equivalent of the Heisman Trophy.

For his Wayne State career, Winters finished with a record of 94-105, the program long in the shadows of perennial powerhouses Ferris State, the defending Division II national champion, and Grand Valley State, winner of four national championships, two of those coming since Winters took over in Detroit.

Winters' best finish in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference was second — which he did three times — most recently, in 2019, when the program last had a winning record, before COVID-19 struck.

He is Wayne State's all-time leader in wins, a three-time GLIAC coach of the year (2006, 2008 and 2019), and he coached more than 500 academic all-GLIAC honorees.

Winters, 64, came to Wayne State from Akron, where he had risen the ranks to offensive coordinator and was a nominee for the Broyles Award, given to the top assistant coach in the nation. Before that, he was on the staff at Wisconsin and Toledo, after a previous stop at Akron, his alma mater where he was a running back in the 1970s.


Twitter: @tonypaul1984