RINDGE, N.H. (December 14, 2018) – Franklin Pierce University Director of Athletics Rachel Burleson has announced Russell Gaskamp has been named as the next head coach of the University’s football program. Gaskamp will be the program’s third coach overall and will be the first to coach the team at the Division II level, as the Ravens join the Northeast-10 Conference in the fall of 2019. He will replace Rashad Watson, who announced his resignation earlier this week.
“I am extremely honored and blessed to be trusted by Rachel Burleson and the administration of Franklin Pierce to lead the Ravens football team into their inaugural season at the NCAA Division II level,” said Gaskamp. “My initial goal is to get our team to be competitive at the conference level as quickly as possible, while creating a culture for long-term success.”
Rindge will be the second collegiate head coaching stop for Gaskamp, who comes to Franklin Pierce after spending seven years leading the football program at Oklahoma Panhandle State University, where he also earned the title of Associate Athletic Director. Over 73 games at the helm of the Aggies, he posted a 35-38 record (.479 winning percentage). OPSU played at the NCAA Division II level for the first five seasons of Gaskamp’s tenure, including two seasons in the highly-competitive Lone Star Conference, before the institution elected to reclassify to the NAIA level for 2017.
Prior to taking the reins at OPSU, Gaskamp spent time as an assistant coach at three other Division II programs, as he logged time at Angelo State University (2009-11), Southwestern Oklahoma State University (2006-08) and Texas A&M University-Commerce (2005). He opened his collegiate coaching career as an assistant at Division I Sam Houston State University for the 2003 and 2004 seasons.
“We are extremely fortunate to have somebody with coach Gaskamp’s level of experience come to our attention at this point in time,” said Burleson. “To head into the world of Division II football with a coach who already has significant coaching experience at the same level can only serve to elevate our program. We look forward to what ‘Coach Gas’ can accomplish in Rindge.”
As an undergraduate, Gaskamp was rostered for five years (1994-98) at the University of Texas, where he was a member of Southwest Conference championship teams in 1994 and 1995, as well as the Big 12 title-winning squad in 1996. He lettered for both the 1996 team and the 1998 incarnation, which would go on to win the Cotton Bowl. In 1998, Gaskamp was the starting center on the Longhorns offensive line which helped clear the way for Ricky Williams in his Heisman Trophy season.
“The members of our football team will quickly understand there is a process to reach our goals; that process includes being extremely competitive in the classroom, being active ambassadors for the University in the community, and being tenacious competitors on the football field,” added Gaskamp. “My wife and I are very much looking forward to joining the FPU family.”
Originally from Weatherford, Okla., and currently hailing from Goodwell, Okla., Gaskamp is a 1999 graduate of the University of Texas, with a bachelor’s degree in management. He later added a master’s degree in educational leadership from Sam Houston State University in 2005.
Gaskamp will begin his duties with the Ravens on Wednesday, Dec. 19. He will be the one to usher the program into Division II competition, and will continue to build on the work of Watson, who stated his resignation came as he sought to return to his family.
“After careful consideration, I think it is best for me to reconnect with my family after two seasons away. It has been an honor to lead the Ravens into the Division II transition. I really will miss the players and the people I’ve worked with daily at Franklin Pierce; they exemplify excellence. I want to personally thank Dr. [Kim] Mooney [President] and Athletic Director Burleson for entrusting me with the program. Go Ravens!”
Watson leaves after two years at the helm of the Ravens, who marked his first collegiate head coaching stop. He guided the team to a 3-4 record in its final year of Collegiate Sprint Football League competition in 2017, and then steered the squad through a transitional campaign in 2018, which included games against sprint programs and junior varsity NCAA teams.
“We are grateful to coach Watson for his work the last two years and for guiding our transition to Division II; he has helped lay the groundwork for whatever heights our program is able to reach in the future,” said Burleson, who also worked with Watson previously at Missouri Southern State University. “I have known Rashad for seven years and continue to have the utmost respect for him as a coach and a person. I wish him and his family nothing but luck in the future.”
For more information on Franklin Pierce Athletics, please visit the official website of Franklin Pierce Athletics (https://www.fpuravens.com). Also be sure to follow the Ravens through the Department of Athletics’ official Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/FranklinPierceRavens), its YouTube channel (http://www.youtube.com/franklinpiercesports) and its Twitter feed (http://twitter.com/FPUathletics). Fans wishing to purchase Franklin Pierce football apparel can do so at the Department of Athletics’ online store (https://www.fpuravens.com/store).