Phil Jones, head football coach at Shorter University, is retiring, the University announced today. Jones, who led the Hawks for 11 seasons, caps off an outstanding career at the helm of the team.
He is being named coach emeritus of the Hawks and will be inducted into Shorter’s Athletic Hall of Fame.
“I’ve been a lot of places-in high schools and colleges, but Shorter University has just been a tremendous part of my life,” Coach Jones said in discussing his retirement. “I fell in love with Shorter and with these kids. This decision to retire has been very emotional for me, and I have so much love for these kids who have worked so very hard in all circumstances.
“I really want to thank the players, the community, and the Shorter family for supporting Shorter Football during our time here. Dr. Dowless and Coach Graham have supported our football program and allowed us to focus on relationships. That’s how Jesus brought things out-through relationships, and that’s what we’ve tried to do here at Shorter. I am confident Shorter Football will continue to be better.”
Shorter University Athletic Director Kim Graham said, “Coach Phil Jones is synonymous with Shorter Hawks football, and we appreciate the outstanding job he has done in leading the program. Coach Jones built Shorter football from the ground up and led Shorter’s team to become one of the top NAIA Division I teams in the nation, producing some of the NAIA’s top players along the way. In their first full season as a Division II program, the Hawks produced their sixth winning season in eight years as part of the football powerhouse Gulf South Conference.”
Shorter University President Dr. Don Dowless expressed appreciation for the leadership Coach Jones has demonstrated both on and off the field.
“Phil Jones is a man of extraordinary character who was absolutely the right person to launch our football program,” said Dr. Dowless. “His stellar career has been built on the cornerstone of relationships, and the impact he has had on his players’ lives is truly extraordinary. Shorter Football will stand proudly on the foundation he has built, and he has our greatest appreciation.”
Jones was hired as Shorter’s first-ever football coach in 2004 to build the newly established program. In 2008, he was named the Grant Teaff Fellowship of Christian Athletes National Coach of the Year, joining an elite class of honorees that includes Tommy Bowden, Sylvester Croom and Tommy Tuberville. Jones was also named the American Football Coaches Association’s National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics Division I Coach of the Year in 2008.
Jones came to Shorter from NCAA Division I-AA (now Football Championship Subdivision) Gardner-Webb University in Boiling Springs, N.C. He served as an assistant coach for the Running Bulldogs, who won back-to-back Big South Conference championships during his tenure. Prior to Gardner-Webb, Jones served as an assistant coach at Southern Methodist University and coached under Jim Donnan at the University of Georgia from 1997 to 2001.
In addition to his collegiate coaching success, Jones coached Georgia high school football for 29 years, his last stop coming at Winder-Barrow High (1984-97) where he led his teams to the playoffs eight times. In 1993, Winder-Barrow advanced to the State AAA semifinals, earning Jones the honor of 1993 AAA Coach of the Year. The 2015 season marked his 47th season as a coach.
Jones, who served on the Georgia High School Association (GHSA) Executive Committee for three terms and as the organization’s chairman from 1993-95, was named AAA Athletic Director of the Year by the Georgia Athletic Directors Association in 1994.
A native of Thomaston, Ga., Jones graduated from Mercer University in 1968.
Founded in 1873, Shorter University is a Christ-centered, four-year liberal arts university committed to excellence in education. The Princeton Review annually includes Shorter on its list of best Southeastern Colleges. Shorter is a member of the Council of Christian Colleges and Universities (CCCU). The university offers traditional bachelor’s degrees in 40 areas of study, online courses and degree programs, undergraduate programs for working adults, and four master’s programs. Learn more about Shorter at www.shorter.edu.